Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Viewpoint Organization

Miners’ Struggle Surges Forward. October League Wags Tail for New Misleaders


First Published: Workers Viewpoint newspaper, Vol. 1, No. 6, September-October 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The four week long wildcat strike of the miners is a continuation of the heroic tradition of the miners in their relentless struggle against the monopoly capitalist class and government, the instrument of the monopolists. It is a political strike that is of great inspiration to the entire U.S. working class. It shows that in this period of dying imperialism, the bourgeoisie is increasingly unable to maintain its rule.

In this period of capitalist crisis the monopoly capitalists are increasingly forced to step up their attacks on the working class with court injunctions and binding arbitration, to take away a potent weapon of the working class, the right to strike, as in the case of the miners. But the miners’ struggle clearly showed that by so doing, the bourgeoisie is only further exposing its impotency in the face of the rising consciousness and militancy of the working class.

What can the bourgeoisie do when not only the 213 workers of the Local 1759 of the United Mine Workers (UMW) walked out in defiance of the bourgeois courts, but when tens of thousands of miners joined their brothers in the uproar? In summing up one struggle by the Russian workers in 1901, the great teacher described the same pitiful situation that the Russian bourgeoisie found themselves in:

On the one hand, laws are passed designating new crimes (e.g. wilful refusal to work or participation in a mob that damages property or resists armed force), penalties for striking are increased, etc., while on the other, the physical and political possibility of applying these laws and imposing corresponding penalties is disappearing. It is physically impossible to prosecute thousands and tens of thousands of men for refusing to work, for striking, or for “mobs”. (Lenin, “Another Massacre,” LCW, Vol.5)

This is how in the end, the bourgeois court was forced to drop all charges against the miners, including the original fines against Local 1759.

As the bourgeoisie is putting up a last ditch effort to maintain their rule, they are bound to become more politically reactionary in trying to suppress the spontaneous resistance of the working class. In our fight to deal a final blow to the criminal system of monopoly capitalism and to prepare for the dictatorship of the proletariat, communists must win the advanced workers to communism. Strikes are only one of the ways in which the working class struggles for its emancipation but not the only way.

Strikes can only be successful where workers are sufficiently class conscious, where they are able to select an opportune moment for striking, where they know how to put forward their demands, and where they have connections with socialists and are able to procure leaflets and pamphlets through them. (Lenin, “On Strikes, On Trade Unions”, p.66)

The struggles of the miners in the last decade have clearly brought home this lesson. While the miners have persisted in the struggle for better working conditions, the right to strike and spearheading the struggle directly against the state, the strikes were consistently sabotaged by the trade union misleaders who are the agents of the bourgeoisie within the working class. Only under the vanguard leadership of a genuine communist party, that is made up of the best sons and daughters of the working class, can we march to the final victory and overthrow the bourgeoisie.

This struggle against the monopoly capitalists is inseparable from the struggle against the trade union misleaders and all shades of opportunism within the working class. Because 6f the superprofits it reaps from the superexploitation of the third world countries, the U.S. bourgeoisie has been able to bribe a minority of the upper strata of the working class. These traitors of the working class such as Miller spread bourgeois ideology within the ranks of the working class and sabotage the struggle of the working class from within. These misleaders must be thoroughly exposed and driven out of our ranks or the “proletariat cannot know who it will march with into the decisive struggle against, the bourgeoisie.” (Lenin, “Theses on the Fundamental Tasks,” LCW, Vol.31, p.190)

The attitude and tactics towards these misleaders is a basic line of demarcation between genuine and sham communists. And this is how the miners’ struggle shows how RCP and OL thoroughly exposed themselves as right opportunists. These sham communists must be similarly driven out of the working class because the working class is bound to head towards defeat under their misleadership.


In the past, OL saw that the “progressive sections of the union leaders” like Miller, Chavez, are “direct reserves” of the proletariat, calling on communists to “unite with the progressive section of the labor leadership against the reactionaries” to “push the unions to the left”. This was the reformist theoretical basis for OL’s complete unity with Arnold Miller when he ran against the reactionary Boyle leadership of the UMW in 1972. OL’s bankrupt line then was that Boyle represents the fascist wing of the trade union misleaders and Miller the “reformist” leadership that communists should ally with. OL did no exposure of Miller at all because he is the better guy. (see WVO Journal, May 1975) This is a lesser-of-two-evils line that was only mentioned recently in the August Call, 1976. In the Call article, OL has to admit that the “line of ’pushing the unions to the left’ mistakenly underestimated the great danger of the liberal reformists (who appeared to be part of the “left”) in the trade unions. This erroneous line called for a ’united front against the fascist union leaders’. It abandoned a scientific understanding of reformism and revisionism as the main ideological props of the imperialists inside the workers movement. It mistakenly saw the contradiction in the trade unions as being between the ’fascists’ and the ’anti-fascists’ .... today the trade union leadership as a whole, including Meany as well as Sadlowski are reformists.”

Yet in their “self-criticism,” OL lays the source for their deviation on a reaction “in combating the ’leftist’ line of skipping over work in the trade unions”.’ While the OL was forced to admit in the face of cold facts that their line on trade union misleaders was completely bankrupt, they still have the guts to maintain that their trade union work overall has made “great advances.” They would not sum up their incorrect line to an ideological plane and admit that it stems from a deeply entrenched illusion in bourgeois democracy, and basically incorrect lines on the counterrevolutionary reform and repression tactics of the bourgeoisie. WVO has consistently held that reform is still the principal form of rule of the bourgeoisie and that militant misleaders within the working class especially those from the ranks of the workers are often more dangerous enemies of the working class than open fascists. WVO has also held consistently that bourgeois democracy is increasingly used by the bourgeoisie to usher in fascism.

Yet OL would not admit that such illusion in bourgeois democracy is not only the basis their class collaborationist Trade Union Line, but is also at the root of their line on Busing, the ERA and the death penalty. This is shown clearly in OL’s polemics against WVO on busing when OL stated that the “main weapon (of the bourgeoisie) has been violent suppression, guns in hand, through the state machinery (police, courts, etc.) and through fascist organization which they support indirectly or directly as the case may be.” (Class Struggle, #2, p.84)

Short of a thorough repudiation of these incorrect lines and summing them to the ideological plane, the OL is bound to repeat the same error they made on Miller in 1972. This is why their recent “left” feint is only old wine in new bottles. This is exposed all too clearly in their recent propaganda around the miners’ wildcat strike.


In their propaganda, OL concentrated their fire on Miller and said that the “liberal leadership headed up by Miller has followed Boyle’s same footsteps, joining the coal companies in launching an attack against the miners’ right to strike.” (The Call, Aug. 2)

This is well and true. However, OL exposes itself as maintaining basically the same lesser-of-two-evils line by giving total and uncritical support to Hays Holstein, the president of Local 1759 that initiated the wildcat. The OL even tried to build up Holstein as the genuine leader of the miners by quoting him to show how he is determined to fight the international leadership of the UMW. (The Call, Aug. 2)

Who is Hays Holstein? And what should communists tactics be toward him? A staunch anti-communist, Holstein has consistently tried to limit the strike to only oppose court injunctions throughout the struggle. He would not even agree that the main aspect of the struggle was over the right to strike. Under his misleadership, the striking local raised four demands in the strike: (1) equal justice from the federal courts; (2) all fines and injunctions imposed by the courts be opened and reexamined; (3) no reprisals against miners who participated in the strike and (4) investigation of federal judges who have issued massive fines and penalties against miners. These demands clearly reveal the danger of Holstein as a mis-leader that preaches bourgeois democratic illusions from within the ranks of the miners.

As communists we know that courts are part of the state apparatus of the bourgeoisie to oppress the working class, that as long as we are under capitalism, the working class can never expect “fair treatment” from bourgeois courts. Secondly, the attacks on the workers right to strike, the court injunctions are not the result of the corruption of individual federal judges, but part of the attack that the monopoly capitalists are launching on the working class. To ask for the investigation of judges is to cover up the inherent contradictions between the workers and the monopoly capitalists and preaches that the oppression we suffer are the faults of individual judges and bureaucrats. Finally, it is Holstein, with his cohort of local presidents, that broke the strike and capitulated to the threats of the International to take over the locals into trusteeship without putting up a fight.

Yet OL did not find it their duty as communists to expose the true nature of Holstein and his like. Instead, OL tailed after the masses of miners by keeping their attack on “exposing Miller.” But in 1976, who needs OL to tell the miners that Miller is a sell out when even the backward workers have come to such understanding through their own experiences and when the bourgeoisie has realized that the use of Miller is over since he is too exposed to put a cap on the militancy of the rank and file? Where was OL in 1972 when the workers sorely needed communists to expose to them the true collaborationist nature of the “liberal reformist” Miller with the microscope and telescope of Marxism Leninism Mao Tse tung Thought? Today the misleaders are mutating to a higher form. As we pointed out in WV newspaper #5 “in these times when all the old opportunist forces are getting more and more exposed, it is the fresh militant mis leaders who are most dangerous... These new faces still have a grip in the masses.” (WV #5, p.S-6) This is precisely the nature of Hays Holstein. Communists must warn workers beforehand. It is rumored that Holstein might run for the next UMW International presidency riding on his new militant image. It is the duty of communists to explain to workers beforehand how by his worship of trade unionism, his ardent push of the illusion in bourgeois democracy and his ability to capture the rising militancy of the miners that Holstein is even more dangerous, a misleader than Miller. By forsaking this duty, the OL is practising the same class collaborationist line they had on Boyle and Miller four years ago.

In this period of capitalist crisis the bourgeoisie is increasingly unable to rule with crumbs and have to resort more to repression although reform is still the principal form of rule. Increasingly, trade union misleaders that used to maintain their rule by the crumbs they get from their capitalist masters found that they are more and more unable to do so since the rising consciousness of the workers see through their sell out schemes. Such misleaders are now being exposed at a faster rate than ever before in different unions throughout the country. But under bourgeois democracy, the bourgeoisie needs these layers of misleaders as their social prop “to preach defeatism and opposition to struggle, and where the outbreak of working class struggle becomes inevitable, directly disrupting it from within.” (Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution) This means that the bourgeoisie will be forced to continue to build up more misleaders. These misleaders, like Holstein and Turner of 1199 and Butler of DC 37 ride on the fall of the old leaders to further the deception of the working class.

The communist tactics towards these misleaders is that we will support them like a rope supports a hanged man. As long as they still command a mass base, we would unite with them tactically but at all times maintain our independence and initiative to expose them before, during and after the struggle. We must expose their true nature as preachers of trade unionism and bourgeois democracy to the masses that are misled by them and win over the workers to communist leadership through a tit for tat struggle.


The RCP also pushes an objectively class collaborationist line in the miners’ struggle by liquidating their role as communists to bring the science of MLMTTT to the working class. Instead, they tailed most miserably the misleaders such as Holstein and persisted in their thoroughly bankrupt economist line. In their blind worship of the mass movement, they even stoop to the level of anti-communism and militant trade unionism.

In RCP’s propaganda on the miners’ struggle, nowhere was communism or the dictatorship of the proletariat mentioned. Nor was there any exposure of the nature of monopoly capitalism that is the root of the oppression and attacks faced by the workers. Nowhere did RCP raise the role of communists and the party of the proletariat in leading the day to day struggle of the working class and leading the working class to the overthrow of the criminal system of monopoly capitalism. In their organizing work among the miners, the RCP cadres first feebly raised the demand “right to strike,” but when they found that this was met with displeasure from some workers, they quickly dropped it and ended up tailing the backward and some middle workers’ demand against the court injunction. Their sum up of the strike in the Revolution totally liquidated the role of communists and wanted us to believe that something more than trade union consciousness of the workers will grow spontaneously and naturally from the strike.

Throughout the struggle, RCP tailed miserably behind Holstein, trying to court his favor so that RCP could sneak into a position to organizationally lead the strike. At one RCP organized rally, the RCP cadre referred to statements by Holstein that the strike was about court injunctions and nothing more. Instead of exposing the class collaborationist nature of Holstein, RCP said that Holstein was correct! A rank and file group called “District 17 and 39 Miners to Stop the Injunction” under the influence of RCP said that they really wanted to help build the strike “because brother Holstein has been carrying the whole load on his shoulders.” When workers said that Miller is a “bad apple” that must be thrown out, RCP agreed, instead of putting forth a scientific analysis of Miller as part of the labor aristocracy that must be totally smashed in our struggle to overthrow monopoly capitalism. This is the same bankrupt “throw the bum out” line that only serves to whitewash the class nature of the bourgeoisie and their agents within the working class.

The RCP cadres boasted for being the respected leaders of the rank and file workers tried to build themselves up in the miners by hiding their politics instead of providing correct communist political and ideological leadership. In one rally, when an RCP cadre was accused of being a communist, he tried to stop any political discussion by saying that he wasn’t a communist. Not one RCP cadre or their contacts stood up to defend communism! Objectively, this is collaborating with the red baiting and anti-communist scheme of the bourgeoisie. Within the two contending trends of war and revolution, either world war will give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent world war. The RCP and the OL side with and promote the bourgeoisie’s trend toward world war.


The miners’ struggle once again shows the intensification of the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in this era of dying imperialism, the eve of proletarian revolution. It shows that the bankrupt lines of the opportunists are increasingly being sorted out in the heat of class struggle as the working class movement surges forward. With firm lines of demarcation drawn between the revolutionary proletarian line of WVO and all shades of opportunism, the emergence of the genuine ML party is now closer than ever before. Genuine communists must take up our tasks, forge the iron organization of the anti-revisionist Communist party, win the advanced workers to communism and begin the systematic preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat!