Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Principles of Unity – Worker-Student Organizing Collective (WSOC)


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The United States is currently in a period of great economic and social crisis, as is the entire capitalist world. Layoffs, cutbacks, and inflation are damaging the lives of millions while a small minority reaps superprofits. And the crisis is showing itself not only in the economic sphere, but in every area of life for the American people.

Piecemeal reforms cannot solve the problems our society faces. This awareness is growing among the U.S. working class and other sectors of the people with similar concerns. Of these other sectors of the people, the oppressed nationalities most fully share with the working class an immediate stake in opposing monopoly capitalism; such opposition is spreading among victims of national oppression. Women are also coming to see that their overall liberation hinges on the demise of capitalism. Students and other groups whose class positions are ambiguous are increasingly advocating a thoroughgoing change in the system. Externally confronted with national liberation movements and the movement for socialism, America’s global empire ceases expansion and begins its gradual collapse, while internally the contradictions between human needs and the drive for profits sharpen. The worker’s movement, the liberation movements of oppressed nationalities, the women’s movement, the student “rebellion”, and the recent anti-war movement are all responses to these conditions. Along with other responses, they constitute a potentially unified force which, under Marxist-Leninist leadership, could become a revolutionary movement capable of overthrowing monopoly capitalism.

Of the progressive responses to the crisis within the U.S., the most important is the insurgent worker’s movement. The growing number of Marxist-Leninist cadre playing an active role in workers’ struggles, the greater general awareness that the present system cannot meet the needs of the workers, and the increasing activity on the part of the masses of working people themselves in resistance to the attacks on their living standards and democratic rights, all outline the positive features of this development. Yet, despite successes in some sectors, the movement remains weak. It has not, amid cutbacks, layoffs, and repression, launched a viable overall defense of the general interests of the working class, much less pose a serious threat to the system. The stagnant or declining number of unionized workers, the continuing control of the vast majority of trade unions by sell-out labor bureaucrats, the weakness of organized rank and file opposition within the unions relative to the task of eliminating those bureaucrats, the still too few number of Marxist-Leninist cadres and practical Marxist-Leninist education at the point of production, and the still very strong divisions within the class along the lines of race, sex, skill, and nationality, all outline the weak points of the movement.

The key ally of the workers’ movement is the movement for the liberation of oppressed nationalities. Today there is a closer collaboration between the two movements than was recently the case. The number of Third World cadre engaged in political struggle and Marxist-Leninist study has proliferated. Oppressed nationalities in the U.S. increasingly recognize the class character of their struggles. In addition, there is an independent movement which addresses the special questions of national oppression, including those around discriminatory hiring and wage practices, the particularly severe degree of police repression, social service cutbacks, and the cultural oppression that affects the Third World communities. Yet in spite of this, the mass character of the movement of the ’50’s and ’60’s is lacking. Thousands and thousands of victims of national oppression still have not become conscious of the potential power that they possess both as part of the working class and as members of a movement that addresses their special demands.

The women’s movement is an essential part of the overall revolutionary movement. Under capitalism, women suffer both economic and social oppression. History shows that women have played a militant role in the workplace as well as in the struggles for democratic rights – both their own and the rights of all oppressed peoples. In the past, the women’s movement often concentrated on the passage of reforms which brought about many gains. It frequently neglected, however, to recognize the importance of working class and Third World women. This led to a separation of many of those women who are self-consciously part of the “women’s movement” from a great many women who, while they are actively involved in the struggle for equality and democratic rights (e.g., daycare, wage parity, end to hiring discrimination, etc.) do not see themselves as part of that movement. The women’s movement must base itself in the struggles of working class and Third World women because it is they who are most closely linked to the cause of socialist revolution, and it is only through such a revolution that women’s liberation can be completed.

History has shown that students have the potential to play a key role in the revolutionary movements against imperialism. In the 1960’s, students formed the core of a powerful movement in opposition to the Vietnam War. Within the current student movement, there is generally a higher level of political consciousness that that which characterized most student organizations of the 1960’s. Active students now see the working class as the crucial force in the revolutionary movement. However, the student movement is only a fraction of its former size. The vast majority of students are left out of the organizations and movements – and the movements that exist are badly divided and isolated from each other. There is presently no unifying issue (such as the Vietnam War) providing a nationwide focus for all political forces. In addition, serious sectarian tendencies have accompanied the positive ideological growth among politically active students. This severely weakens and divides our forces.

In this context, our central task is the building of a revolutionary movement. This task has two aspects: 1) ideological and organizational preparation with other Marxist-Leninists to build a genuine vanguard Marxist-Leninist party which is capable of leading the working class in the seizure of state power, and 2) constantly engaging in and building mass struggles of the working class and its allies. These two aspects form a single task because one cannot successfully proceed without the other. Ideological and organizational development and practical mass work are dependent on each other.


We consider U.S. imperialism (monopoly capitalism) to be the main enemy of the people of the world. The worldwide defeat of imperialism would pave the way for the construction of a socialist system where the resources of society could be used for the well-being of the people instead of for the profits of a few. Presently, the imperialist system, headed by the United States, is in rapid decline throughout the world. Third World countries are asserting their rights, demanding independence, and wresting control of their own economies away from U.S. “multinational” corporations. The defeat of the United States in Vietnam is the most dramatic example of an empire’s deterioration, but there are domestic indications of the same process: decline in living standards, recession/depression, and the greatest labor militancy in years.

But the class that rules America is not about to call it quits. The current crisis is not a guarantee of socialist revolution. In fact, given the present weakness of the American Marxist-Leninist movement, the bourgeoisie might attempt to resolve its crisis by resorting to war and/or fascism. The possibility of war abroad is seen in the maneuvers of U.S. imperialism in the Mid-East and Southern Africa. The danger of greater repression at home has escalated with the use of grand juries as instruments for forced interrogations and the attempt to stifle dissent through legislation such as Senate Bill S-l. Even the spectre of fascism coming to power in America arises with the recent growth of right-wing movements (such as BOAR in the north and similar groups in the south) and the resurgence of older fascist and proto-fascist formations (e.g., the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, the John Birch Society, etc.). In sum, the working class and its allies have come under increasing political attack as the ruling class attempts to place the burden of the economic crisis on them.

What is the best strategy for the working class and its allies to end their general oppression under monopoly capitalism and its periodic intensification during crises? Within the international context, we see the correct strategy to be a worldwide United Front Against Imperialism, led by the international working class and Third World national liberation forces. (A correct approach to the United Front strategy within one country has been demonstrated by our sisters and brothers in Vietnam. There Communists organized a National Liberation Front to unite the vast majority of the Vietnamese people in struggle against U.S. aggression. At the same time, they advanced the cause of socialism in Vietnam by putting forth a consistent, revolutionary program and by being in the forefront of the resistance.)

Within the United States, the United Front Against Imperialism must be built under the leadership of the working class in alliance with the oppressed nationalities. And as in Vietnam, the leading force will be a multi-national Marxist-Leninist party. The central core of the United Front must include militant rank and file groups and labor unions, and progressive and revolutionary Third World organizations. A main ally in the struggle must be the movement for the democratic rights of women. Other organizations, such as student groups, community groups, daycare centers, environmental groups, etc. should also be a part of the United Front. Although the effect of imperialism on each of them is different, their common anger can be consolidated and organized into action against the monopoly capitalist system, the ultimate source of all their problems. In short, the United Front must unite everyone possible against the common enemy.

The multi-national working class, especially as it is organized in the labor movement, must be the core of the United Front inside the U.S. This is because the fundamental internal contradiction of U.S. monopoly capitalism is between the working class and the capitalist class which exploits its labor. This exploitation is the foundation of the capitalist system and provides the working class with its objective interest in the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement with socialism. Further, because of its role in the production and distribution of all goods and services, only the working class has the numerical strength, strategic position, basis for collective organization, and therefore, the potential power to overthrow capitalism.

The oppressed nationalities in their struggle for liberation comprise the strategically closest and firmest allies of the working class. Capitalism is the cause of national oppression. Only through socialist revolution can national liberation or equality be achieved. The oppressed nationalities are overwhelmingly working class in character, and are located in key industrial and service sectors of the workforce. They also suffer a greater degree of exploitation than white workers, resulting in extreme social oppression. Since lasting unity must rest on a foundation of equality, the working class as_ a whole must take up the struggle for democratic rights of oppressed nationalities within the U.S., and ultimately defeat the common enemy. Although many white workers are racist and believe that national oppression operates in their interest, this belief is mistaken. Racism divides the working class in a way that substantially hurts all workers (e.g., preventing unionization in the south, breaking strikes through racial divisions, etc.) It is therefore in the objective interest of all workers to combat racist ideas and national oppression. White workers have no real material interest in supporting racism.[1]

The women’s movement for democratic rights and full equality with men is another’ important ally of the working class within the United Front. The oppression of women is not as clearly connected with class exploitation as is that of the oppressed nationalities, since there are as many women as men in each class of society. However, women’s oppression is a product of class society, and women cannot attain full equality with men under the capitalist system. Further, within the working class, especially among nationally oppressed workers, women comprise the most exploited and oppressed sector. Therefore, the struggle for the liberation of women is a revolutionary one, and the fight for women’s democratic rights must be an integral part of the overall movement for a socialist revolution. But while socialist revolution is a necessary step for the overall liberation of women, it is not, in itself, sufficient to complete it. The entire working class must fight for democratic rights and equality for women, especially basing its demands on the needs of working class and Third World women. Only in this way can the working class overcome sexist divisions within it and unite to fight.

Where do students fit into the United Front? Historically, students often play an active role in progressive and revolutionary movements. In the United States, masses of students were involved in the civil rights struggle, the anti-war movement, the women’s movement, and in winning educational gains such as open admissions programs. Students do not necessarily have an objective stake in the maintenance of the capitalist system since their economic and class identities are in transition away from the one inherited from their parents, and toward the one they will assume on their own. But neither do students necessarily perceive their interests to be entirely at odds with capitalism. The capitalist university, after all, prepares students to take their places in a corporate based economic and social system, and also reinforces society’s class divisions. By looking at who goes into different schools and where they go when they get out, it becomes clear that enormous differences exist between private and public schools, and even within the public sphere itself – as between the senior and community colleges of the City University of New York.

But either through exposure to ideas and theories in their studies, or through the oppressive conditions of their daily lives, many students are led to the cause of proletarian revolution. These students can be an extremely important force in challenging the class nature of the educational system and a valuable ally to the working class and the oppressed nationalities in their battle with the capitalist system.

Regarding the forces mentioned above, our main purpose is to help build a United Front Against Imperialism within the U.S. We believe there must be Marxist-Leninist leadership to organize, carry through, and lead such a United Front.

We have not constituted ourselves as a Marxist-Leninist organization in order to set up another sectarian group which views itself as the center of all political activity or as the core of any future mass movement. Rather, we have organized ourselves in this way to engage in ideological and practical work with other Marxist-Leninist forces to build a Marxist-Leninist party, and to work as a politically unified force in mass struggles to provide them with leadership whenever possible.

Therefore our organization works: 1) Within existing mass and anti-imperialist movements and struggles and initiates mass or anti-imperialist coalitions and actions when appropriate; 2) With existing Marxist-Leninist groups in order to develop a higher level of ideological unity through common struggle.


The problems of American society – racial oppression, the oppression of women, inequitable distribution of income and resources, unsafe working conditions, unemployment, inflation, inadequate and expensive health care and housing, rigidly tracked and de-humanizing schools, and the feelings of powerlessness and alienation which we experience – are interrelated. We believe that the analysis of Marx and Lenin best explains their relationship, and that a socialist system is the solution to our society’s problems. The validity of Marxism-Leninism has been demonstrated in the People’s Republic of China and advanced through the writings of Mao Tse-Tung.

We do not accept as Marxism-Leninism either the reformist and liberal “pressure group” politics characteristic of the Communist Party USA with its doctrine of a peaceful transition to socialism, nor Trotskyism which opposes all successful revolutions and all successful Third World national liberation movements in the name of revolution.

We accept the strategy and tactics of the United Front Against Imperialism as outlined in Part II, and we stand opposed to certain frequent political errors among various left forces which violate our conception of that strategy. One of the most serious is the tendency to concentrate solely on ideological polemics and struggle within the ranks of the Marxist-Leninist forces, thus neglecting mass work among those who are not already in anti-imperialist or Marxist-Leninist organizations. This leads to isolation from a mass constituency and fruitless sectarian squabbles, since the polemics are not based on actual mass practice.

An equally serious error is the refusal to join coalitions with broad forces on mass issues. There is a common tendency within the newly emerging Marxist-Leninist movement to demand that opposition to the entire imperialist system be the level of unity around any particular issue we work on. This is an error; the level of understanding of those willing to work on the issue is an important determinant of how the level of unity should be set. People learn the incorrectness of liberal and reformist strategies in their own experience and practice; we cannot refuse to unite with everyone who has a more reformist perspective than our own at the beginning of every struggle. The level of unity around any particular issue of struggle must be broad enough to unite a significant fighting force. Within this level of unity, we strive to put forward, and win the majority to, an analysis which demonstrates the roots of the issue to be in the imperialist system. But we cannot always demand that opposition to the imperialist system be the level of unity, nor can we engage in polemical name-calling against all those who are willing to engage in the struggle but have a less developed political viewpoint than our own. We must unite with broad enough forces to have a significant impact, and then demonstrate in the process of the struggle itself the correctness of our political analysis. In this way we can win the majority to our perspective, while name-calling or attacks on more reformist and apolitical forces at the beginning of a struggle often serves to fragment and hold back the movement.

In general, a mass movement’s level of unity should never be made higher than that which will unite a strong fighting force, but never lower than that which is necessary to advance the struggle and raise the level of understanding of those involved to an anti-imperialist view of the entire system. The attempt to demand complete unity in a mass organization around an anti-imperialist analysis, without regard to the level of awareness of the majority of those involved, is ultra-left and sectarian. However, to make the level of unity too low is to provide no decent leadership or direction at all – this is the right opportunist error. In the larger mass movements in this country, the “right” error prevails. Within the newly-emerging Marxist-Leninist movement, the first is the more common error. Divisive and narrow dogmatic “lines” have become more important than the development of the mass movement. We must remember that the purpose of theory is to aid in the development of unified mass struggle, not to override or impede it.

Perhaps examples of each error would clarify them: the “right” error is almost always made by the Communist Party USA and the Socialist Workers Party in their attempts to unite large numbers. An example of this is the “single issue” approach which the SWP applied to the anti-war movement, and continues to apply to the women’s and Black liberation movements: no connections between issues are allowed to be drawn, and unity can only be on the most liberal and apolitical basis possible. Thus, in the anti-war movement, the SWP usually fought actively to keep radical and revolutionary people from speaking at rallies, while they pushed hard to fill the platforms with liberal congresspeople and other pro-capitalist forces. Despite their differences with the SWP’s “single issue” approach, the CPUSA did essentially the same thing. Of course, unity with such elements against the war was necessary, but in allying with them we should not make concessions with regard to principled politics or give them control over the movement.

The opposite “left” error is shown by virtually all of the numerous little Trotskyist sects which never build mass movements, but rather demand unity behind their own line. The frequent example of a “mass” rally of 20 faithful followers of one of these sects around an issue with potential mass appeal sufficiently demonstrates this error. The role of communists is not to condescendingly lay their line on the people, but to respond to their needs and wants and to consolidate them into demands which car. advance class struggles.

The United Front approach also applies to work at higher levels, with Marxist-Leninist groups and anti-imperialist forces. It is important to keep in mind the following: 1) clear and principled discussion and struggle over differenced must be engaged in and should not be avoided, for this is the only way clarity can be achieved; 2)within the ranks of the anti-imperialist forces, struggle must be comradely and it should be remembered that imperialism is the real enemy, not each other; 3) anti-imperialist coalitions or groups must allow the Marxist-Leninist groups within them to play an independent role, so long as their independent work does not attack the coalition itself or go against binding decisions made by the coalition; 4) anti-imperialist coalitions should strive to be broad enough to accommodate more than one Marxist-Leninist tendency, and also non-Marxist-Leninists who want to fight the system at various levels; and 5} ideological struggle between Marxist-Leninist groups must always be for the purpose of achieving higher unity around the best political line to lead mass struggle; other organizational loyalties are secondary to this main goal.

We try to apply this conception of the United Front in all our political work. We will do political work on all issues which engage people in struggle against the common enemy. This means work at a variety of levels: 1) within mass, reform, or single-issue movements, to attempt to guide them in an anti-imperialist direction and to win the most advanced elements to the viewpoint of Marxism-Leninism; 2) in anti-imperialist organizations and movements, to struggle for the best political line, and to win other anti-imperialists to a Marxist-Leninist perspective, and; 3) at the Marxist-Leninist level, to build the ideological and practical unity needed to forge a truly vanguard Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S.

We see five main areas of work as being particularly important:

1. Work in the Struggles of the Working Class

This includes organizing in our workplaces as well as support for the struggles of other workers. Such work takes place in union organizing drives; in building rank and file caucuses, study circles and action groups; in workers’ coalitions that raise demands that go beyond a particular workplace or industry; developing Marxist-Leninist consciousness among advanced workers; and in building links between the workers’ movement and other progressive forces, especially when such unity can help defeat attacks on the mutual interests of workers and their allies.

2. Work Against the Oppression of Nationalities within the U.S.

This includes fighting for minority hiring; equality of pay, working conditions, etc.; against police repression in Third World communities; the struggle for equal and multi-cultural education; and in general, in alliance with the active movements of Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and others for democratic rights; and against white chauvinist attitudes which result from the institution of white supremacy.

While we consider these two areas of work to be of primary overall importance, we also stress the following three areas of work:

3. Work Against the Oppression of Women

The question of fighting the oppression of women and sexism is not one that has been dealt with seriously by groups on the left. We feel that this is a major error and that active work must be done around equal employment, adequate day care, for women’s studies, against the special oppression of Third World and working class women, and against sexism and male chauvinism in all areas.

4. Support of Third World National Liberation Struggles Abroad

This includes struggles such as the Puerto Rican independence movement, African liberation movements, and the recently-victorious Indochinese liberation movements. We must raise a proletarian internationalist perspective in all of our work in the U.S. Examples of this work might be organizing educational programs, showing films, distributing or selling literature, material aid, participating in U.S. solidarity movements, boycotts (for example, of Rhodesian chrome), and demonstrations against U.S. foreign policy (for example in S.E. Asia).

5. On the Campus, Work Against the Capitalist Nature of the University.

We must expose and challenge the university as a bourgeois institution which reinforces class divisions and programs us to accept the permanency of the capitalist system and its values. This includes challenging the university’s integral role in the corporate capitalist structure through struggles against ROTC, military research, the tracking nature of the schools (by fighting for open admissions, special programs, financial aid, etc.) and against university “think tanks” for the government such as Schools of International Affairs, etc. We are particularly determined to take up the struggles of working class students in the democratic struggle for access to higher education and against cutbacks at public universities such as CUNY and SUNY.

In general we believe that there must be consistent, active struggle against racism and sexism within our own organization and in all our political work. These struggles are crucial because they involve the special oppression of oppressed nationalities and women, and also because this oppression perpetuates divisions among the working class and are the most serious impediments to reaching class unity.

We are united in principle on the five basic areas of work outlined above. We recognize that a fully developed Marxist-Leninist organization must also work in a number of other areas where we presently are not, such as prison work, GI work, etc. How to put forth our politics on each of these issues and deciding which takes precedence at any given time depends on the specific conditions at hand.

In summary, our fundamental principles include the acceptance of the basic theories of Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse-Tung; the strategy and tactics of the United Front Against Imperialism; and the five basic areas of work outlined above.


We feel we can learn a great deal from other Marxist-Leninist organizations as well as mutually benefit from practical unity wherever politically feasible. Such unity and maturation are a key part of building a new vanguard Marxist-Leninist party. We would like to establish ties with any organization with whom we could find basic agreement through mutual ideological discussion, debate, and practice.


The WSOC was set up by workers and students who came together out of common practice, common study, and the need for unified action and a structure for summing up and guiding that action in order to improve our work. Additional membership in the organization is determined by basic political agreement with these principles of unity and positions of the WSOC, and willingness to engage in mass practice. The group meets regularly, and political positions and actions are decided by discussions – either by the full group or by smaller units, depending on the nature of the issue. On issues which require a unified position, a decision of the majority is binding on all members. We operate in a unified and disciplined fashion, and have a centralized leadership to make political decisions between full group meetings. Membership in the organization involves a serious commitment and responsibility to the group, and an agreement that the group will provide the focus for all political work.

For further information, call: (212) 866-6758.


[1] In the liberation struggle of Blacks and other oppressed nationalities, we believe that the question of which – if any – of the oppressed nationalities are oppressed nations with the right of self-determination and secession, and which are oppressed national minorities is a critical one facing the Marxist-Leninist movement today. We are presently doing theoretical work on this question in addition to our practical work.