Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

PRRWO: Anarcho-Socialism U.S.A. Expose PRRWO’S Hustlerism!


A. Advanced Workers and Fusion

It is important to understand who are the advanced workers, for they are the ones who determine the character and level of the workers’ movement. The relationship between the advanced workers and communists is also a gauge of the development of the working class movement and the state of fusion between the working class and the communist movements. The question of what the political level of the advanced workers is therefore is not static but is relative.


In the communist movement the right deviation, committed by the OL and RU, has historically been to belittle the advanced workers and degrade their role. As we stated:

OL typically never states explicitly their concept of an advanced worker. But what seems to approach it is that ’if a worker-comrade understands the need for revolution and submits to the discipline of the organization, he will be admitted.’ The RU’s position is that an advanced worker ’wins the respect of the fellow workers; is someone one comes to in trouble and when one needs to discuss problems, is someone other workers rally around when faced with a collective problem, provides leadership in struggle; demonstrates class stability and serve-the-people attitude and someone who may even profess anti-communism.’ (Red Papers, #5. Emphasis added.)

While most of the components are correct, the last ideological point [WVO note: this was our error. We now understand this to be a political point] is the point which turns everything around... The RU claims that an advanced worker may profess some anti-communism because it is conditioned by society and the media. This is a rightist position because it completely liquidates the ideological and political aspect. This is certainly related to their principal task of ’building the struggle, consciousness and leadership of the working class’. A retrograde trend adapts itself, as Lenin put it, “to the lowest level of understanding.’ (Retrograde Trend in RSD, 1899, LCW, V.4)

Our position is that advanced workers have to be open to socialism. How could you win advanced workers – as compared to middle elements – to socialism if they are anti-communist and not open to socialism?” (WV, Vol. II, No. 1. May 1975, pp. 35-36)


There are two issues here. One is, who are these advanced workers, as we find them in the factories and mills before communists have worked and studied with them? And the other is, what is the political and ideological level they are able to achieve after studying and struggling together with communists?

PRRWO clearly fails to differentiate between the two. In polemicizing against the RU’s right deviation on the advanced worker, PRRWO put forth that RU’s definition “... said nothing of the need for ideological and political training which is an absolute necessity if anyone is to grasp the science of Marxism-Leninism.” (“U.S. Pregnant with Revolution”) Our position on RU’s definition has already been elaborated above. However, the point PRRWO raises about ideological and political training deals with the question of the responsibility of communists towards the advanced workers and our task to turn every advanced worker into a professional revolutionary. This does not answer the point about what is the political and ideological level of the advanced workers as we find them in the plants and mills before we have worked and studied with them! Comrades, are you talking about how to identify the advanced workers or are you talking about their consolidation?

On the question of the advanced worker, we have historically differed with PRRWO, who represents the “left” deviation. This difference was confirmed over and over in public forums and debates.

PRRWO has dogmatically imposed Lenin’s description of an advanced worker in 1899 Russia on to today’s situation without taking into account the differences in development of both the working class and communist movement as well as the state of fusion(At ATM’s forum in New York, for example).

In fact, the ATM in a recent New York City forum was forced to admit that there are so few “advanced workers” by Lenin’s “Retrograde Trend” definition that most of the workers they studied with are middle elements. And they become advanced workers only after study and struggle with communists. The struggle has historically been around that and not “the essence of principles” of Lenin’s universal stand, viewpoint and method on advanced workers, which PRRWO pretends it to be, recently.


Our definition of advanced workers is that they must be open to studying MLMTTT and must be independent leaders of the working class, staunch and consistent fighters who are able to win the confidence and trust of the class. Being advanced elements they are active, and have a critical mind and combative spirit. So they are not passively open to socialism or indifferent towards it. They actively seek it out and take a stand on it through contact with communists. Their scope is broad so they are able to generalize have a “philosophical mind” so they can theorize and see beyond their own oppression, link it up with other oppressed workers, oppressed nationalities and oppressed people around the world. In seeking out solutions to their oppression, some elaborate Utopian socialist ideas but not all do. And then, not all workers who elaborate Utopian socialist ideas are necessarily advanced (some middle and downright backward workers do, too).

For example, trends of Utopian, bourgeois socialism attract middle and backward workers. Lasalleanism was a bourgeois socialist trend in the German workers’ movement in the l870’s. It rallied middle and backward workers against the Marxists (Eisenachers), who attracted the advanced. In the U.S., some shades of Populism are bourgeois socialist trends. They demagogically appeal to the petty bourgeoisie and the backward workers’ anti-government and anti-big business sentiments. In the U.S., these populist trends are a potential source for fascist movements.

At the time the anti-revisionist communist movement was doing polemics over whether advanced workers are “open to socialism” or are already Social-Democrats as in 1899 Russia, it was clear to all comrades, including ATM, PRRWO and RWL, that we are all along talking about scientific socialism, not just open to Utopian socialism or any socialist ideas. We now make it explicit to you, comrades, and it is precisely on this point that we are now polemicizing against your definition of advanced worker, “open to socialism” today means open to the only scientific socialism, MLMTTT.

The difference between our description and Lenin’s description of 1899 Russian advanced workers in “A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy” is on the political level of the advanced workers in terms of their grasp of MLMTTT. We do not think that advanced workers today, in general, actively participate in study circles or are Social-Democrats (communists) already.

Those advanced workers were Social-Democrats; many of them even took a personal part in the disputes between the Narodnaya Volya adherents and the Social Democrats that typified the transition of the Russian revolutionary movement from peasant and conspiratorial socialism to working class socialism.(“A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy,” LCW, Vol.1, p.260)

The political level of the advanced is historically conditioned by the level of fusion between the working class movement and the communist movement. This is a question that PRRWO never addresses themselves to.


The state of fusion between the Russian workers’ and communist movements at the turn of the century was altogether different from the way it is today. Lenin said that by 1899,

in the course of a long and arduous historical path the Russian revolutionary movement has evolved the union of socialism and the working-class movement, the union of the great social and political ideals and the class struggle of the proletariat. ...the advanced Russian workers have laid the foundation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party. (“A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy”, LCW, Vol.4, p.261)

Can we say the same thing today? It is obvious to all that this is not the situation in the U.S. today. Lenin said that at that time:

The fusion of the advanced workers and the Social-Democratic organizations was altogether natural and inevitable. It was the result of the great historical fact that in the nineties two profound social movements converged in Russia: one, a spontaneous movement, a popular movement within the working class, the other, the movement of social thought in the direction of the theory of Marx and Engels, towards the theory of Social-Democracy. (Ibid, p.260)

Can we confidently say that the workers’ movement in the U.S. has converged with the communist movement, guided by the only scientific theory, MLMTTT?

This is definitely not the case! In Russia, there was already a long continuous history of struggle against the Czarist autocracy and the Narodniks, and the advanced workers were themselves taking a part in defeating Utopian socialism and other eclectic theories.

In polemicizing against the notorious renegade Trotsky on the character of the workers’ and Social-Democratic movement, Lenin said: “The strikes of 1895-96 had already [emphasis added] given rise to a mass working class movement, which, both in ideas and organization was linked with the Social-Democratic movement.” (“Disruption of Unity Under the Cover of Outcries for Unity”. Lenin. 1914. LCW, Vol. 20, p.343)

In the U.S., the state of fusion has actually gone backwards compared to the 1930’s, precisely because of the degeneration of the “C”PUSA, coupled with the anti-communist red-baiting of the McCarthy era in the 1950’s. This is not to mention the complete bribery of a stratum of the working class, the labor aristocracy, by imperialist profits extracted from the U.S. working class and oppressed people around the world. Because of the lack of real communist leadership in the working class, the trade union movement is more backwards politically in 1976 than it was in the 1930’s.

There has been a break between the communist movement of the early CPUSA and the anti-revisionist communist movement of today. In the 1930’s, the CPUSA was clearly in the leadership of some of the newly formed heavy industrial unions of the CIO, despite its ideological and political weaknesses. It was still far more fused with the working class movement than the communist movement is today Though it never had a cadre core, the-“C”PUSA was a mass workers party from the very beginning when they formed in 1921 with 15,000 members. This has to be taken into account when we talk about the state of fusion! This is a particularly significant factor when you also take into account the differences in the development of trade unions in Russia and an advanced capitalist country, like the U.S. (this is further explained in the part on trade unions. This was specifically pointed out by Stalin in “The Results of the Work of the 14th Congress of the R.C.P.(B)”, On the Opposition, Peking ed.)

Against Trotsky’s tailing intellectualist view, Lenin used statistics to illustrate that during the period 1884-90, liberal professionals and students composed 53.3% of the revolutionary movement, “when the movement was Narodnik”. “But the picture underwent a complete change in 1901-03 (only two years after 1899), when a Social-Democratic Party already existed, and when the old Iskra was conducting its work. The intelligentsia were now a minority [emphasis in original] among the participants of the movement; the workers [emphasis in original] (industry and commerce) were far more numerous than the intelligentsia [emphasis added]. By then, 46.1% of the Social-Democrats were workers in a country like Russia, a predominantly agrarian society and where the intelligentsia have dropped to 28.7%.” (“Disruption of Unity Under Cover Of Outcries For Unity”. Lenin. 1914. LCW, Vol. 20)

Can we claim that half of the people in the communist movement today are workers, that there are twice as many workers as comrades with student backgrounds in the overall communist movement? Perhaps the best indication of the state of fusion can be seen from the political level of the broad stratum of average workers. Lenin said:

These workers, too, strive ardently for socialism, participate in workers’ study circles, read socialist newspapers and books, participate in agitation, and differ from the preceeding stratum only in that they cannot become fully independent leaders of the Social-Democratic working class movement. (“A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy”, p. 281)

Can we say the broad masses of workers in the U.S. today, the average workers, “participate in workers’ study circles, read socialist newspapers and books..., etc.?

Comrades, we think this is enough!!!

The sickness of dogmatism is blindness. Always reading books and articles (like ̶A Retrograde Trend”) out of the context of time and place, yet raving and screaming about “revolutionary spirit”. Revolutionary spirit is fine and we can use it, provided you don’t peddle your anti-working class trash like PRRWO’s line that the ”vast majority of workers are backwards”, that “there are no proletariat in New York”, and that “the consciousness of workers is like a pyramid, with a few advanced at the top and the bulk of the workers backwards and at the bottom”, etc.

No matter how you explain yourself, PRRWO, this proves that you are backwards yourself.


Lenin always said that the masses of workers spontaneously gravitate towards socialist thought, though the form it takes varies with time and conditions. As Marx put it, for example, even “religious distress”, the dominant form of feudal ideology and politics during some eras, can be the “real distress of the masses”.

Perhaps PRRWO would laugh at the workers, because the vast majority of them are “backward”, at these “religious fanatics”; perhaps PRRWO believes that they are all hopelessly backward. But all this only proves that PRRWO is hopelessly duped by their own “advanced elements” line, by their own imagination, using their put-on ^advanced workers*to justify and cover the fact that they can’t consolidate any real advanced workers.

And all this talk about Malcolm X!

Malcolm X and George Jackson prove our point exactly. They were advanced elements for their time. Malcolm X during the early 60’s did not embrace MLMTTT, due to the fact that “C”PUSA betrayed the proletarian revolution and because of the lack of fusion of MLMTTT with the spontaneous movement in the early 60’s. That’s why, in the 50’s and 60’s, advanced elements had to pick up whatever form of ideology available that seemed to “explain” the nature of oppression, no matter how crude it was, in order to fight back. George Jackson, during the late 60’s, due to the Black Panther Party during the eclectic period, was influenced by eclectic Marxism. So one was a Black Muslim, another an eclectic socialist; would you say one is backward and the other more advanced? This is the kind of petrified and dead thinking that dogmatism inevitably leads you into. There is no understanding of the question of form and appearance (due to social conditions) and their real essence. All you get from dogmatism is absurd reductions into “objective ideology”. Is it then any wonder that PRRWO views the spontaneous struggles of the working class as “economist” – and like the IWK, believes that, except for the “communist workers movement”, everything else is “economist” – because there are “only two ideologies”? Doesn’t that remind you of PL’s motto: “all national movements are reactionary”, since there are only two ideologies, bourgeois and proletariat?


After over a year of struggle on this question, PRRWO mutated their definition and said that advanced workers elaborate only Utopian socialist theories. (“Party Building in the Heat of the Class Struggle”, pp 29 & 31)

Advanced elements were ’studying, studying, studying hard, trying to turn themselves into class conscious elements, and even elaborating independent socialist theories–e.g., the Black Panther Party 10-Point Program, Health Revolutionary Union Movement’s 10-Point Health Program, YLP’s 13-Point Program, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers’ Program, the BWC Manifesto. But these were not scientific socialist theories. This theory can only be brought from without the spontaneous struggle, interjected by the class conscious elements.” They later say: “We hold to the essence of the definition of advanced elements as Lenin described them in “A Retrograde Trend in Social Democracy,” although we realize that the conditions are not exactly the same.”

But then, certainly they have changed their position. Unable to stick to the word and letter of the 1899 definition, PRRWO now mutates to the “essence” of it!

The ’advanced workers’ that PRRWO is speaking of who fit the 1899 definition are the workers who were HRUM, DRUM, League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The League, HRUM and DRUM were all part of the revolutionary national movements. For example, many of the leadership of DRUM did not just arise from the spontaneous rank and file trade union struggles in the plants or hospitals. No, many of the leaders were not rank and file workers, but were revolutionary nationalists and some were lawyers and some were other intellectuals. In fact, the majority of the leadership was directly influenced by and was involved with the revolutionary movements outside the workplaces of that time, the national liberation and national minority community struggles. The ideas they assimilated were mainly eclectic theories of these revolutionary national movements, such as the BPP and the 10-Point Program, which were definitely not MLMTTT, scientific socialism. Some of these forces did develop into ML’s and to unite with them is part of our task of uniting ML’s, which we have been carrying out more consistently than PRRWO nationwide. Others have either dropped out or have drifted towards the marsh forces.

So clearly the advanced workers in Russia in 1899 had personally taken part in defeating Utopian socialist theory and had adopted scientific socialism. In 1899, scientific socialism was Marxism. Today, scientific socialism is MLMTTT. Can we say that advanced workers today have adopted MLMTTT?? This is precisely where PRRWO’s dogmatism lies. They have not considered what is cardinal in Marxism, that is, taking the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism, its universal truth and applying it to the concrete conditions, time, and place.

Revolutionary nationalists like Malcolm and George Jackson were independent leaders of the spontaneous upsurge of the 60s, and are definitely advanced elements.

But this sector of advanced workers and other advanced elements cannot constitute the whole stratum of the advanced workers in the U.S. today,as PRRWO advocates. They make no mention of the advanced workers that arise from spontaneous trade union struggles like the miners struggling for trade union democracy and for improved health conditions, or other burning social issues, like women’s oppressions. To belittle these other sectors of advanced workers is blatant narrow nationalism, and consistent with their view that the majority of workers are backward.


In several public forums before, the RWL waged heated polemics against both PRRWO’s and ATM’s dogmatic application of Lenin’s definition of the advanced worker, from 1899 Russia.

Now the RWL is taking a centrist opportunist position. We see them slipping and sliding on the definition, saying that “under the guidance of communists, advanced workers will study, study, study....”

Now, we think that under the guidance and training of communists, advanced workers can do much more than that! Under communist leadership, they will overthrow the bourgeoisie! But that is evading the question. The point is how to identify them. Who are they and what is their political level before they study and are won over by communists?


As you have stated many times, your view is that “the consciousness of the workers is like a pyramid, with a few advanced at the top and the bulk of the workers are backwards and at the bottom.” This line is totally anti-working class! It shows disdain and pessimism because if the majority of workers are backward, how can you win them over to overthrow the bourgeoisie?! Your formulation of political lines and your practice clearly reflects this outlook and shows that in essence, your line hasn’t changed when it has (!) is further proof of your opportunism. For example, it’s no accident that you say that the trade union bureaucrats are already exposed, except to the most backward workers. Exposed to your “advanced workers” maybe. In fact, the trade union bureaucrats are not exposed to the majority of workers, but then, to you the majority of workers are backward! The majority of workers are angry and know their individual union “leader” is sold out, but do they understand their class nature as trade union bureaucrats and labor aristocracy? Your line relieves you of the communist duty to do protracted political exposure, since your responsibility today is only to the advanced workers. And according to you, they already see through the trade union bureaucrats.

In our view, the general proportions of the advanced, middle and backward among the working class is shaped like a football. This is a dialectical view that sees two extremes with the majority in the middle which will be won over to proletarian revolution. At one end is a small stratum of the advanced workers, and at the other end, a small stratum of the backward workers. The vast majority of workers are in the middle, “...they cannot become fully independent leaders of the Social-Democratic working class movement.” (A Retrograde Trend In Russian Social-Democracy. Lenin. 1899. LCW. Vol. 4, p.281) Some are open to the study of MLMTTT but lack the proletarian stand to be consistent, staunch fighters of the class. Others may be militant and staunch fighters but are not actively open, but indifferent to the science of MLMTTT and are only anti-monopoly-capitalist. They can’t as readily grasp the stand, viewpoint and method of MLMTTT nor have the more integral proletarian world outlook of the advanced workers, though they do spontaneously grasp aspects of it. Middle elements readily respond to propaganda and agitation when communists use forms such as lively topical newspapers, political events, demos, plays, and films, in the course of mass struggles.

The smaller stratum of the backward workers are thoroughly entrenched with the old world outlook and cannot see beyond their own individualistic self interests. Some are so crippled by oppression that they turn to the most reactionary ideas and organizations like JDL, American Legion and the chauvinist, fascist KKK. They resort to the worst, decadent habits which totally corrupt their world outlook. Some are consolidated “liberals”, real social democrats who preach about constitutional rights and American liberties and whose world outlook is drenched with illusions about bourgeois democracy. Good examples of a couple of backward workers are the T.V. characters promoted and glorified by the bourgeoisie, like Archie Bunker, the stone racist, all-American patriot, and Tom Hartman, the arch reformer who’s out to “humanize” the auto plant by becoming a trade union bureaucrat. Backward workers are potentially part of the organized base for fascism, though not all are organized today.

At times, especially when there’s an upsurge of working class struggle, not only the advanced but the middle and even some of the backward workers will respond to capitalist oppression. And when the revolutionary torrent is ready to deal a powerful blow to the bourgeoisie, the majority of the class will come over to the side of the revolution or to benevolent neutrality towards it.

Today, we’re still in the step when winning over the advanced workers to communism is primary. But we must remember that, like the advanced workers, the middle and backward are also historically determined. It is the long-term task of communists and advanced workers, more especially when we are in the second step, to win over the middle workers to the side of communism.

As the saying goes, history repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time, as farce! But the farce is only natural, since PRRWO’s anti-working class stance and their inability to consolidate advanced workers has forced them to say, shamelessly, that there are not even any proletariat in New York! Perhaps they can enlighten the communist movement and advanced workers why “there is no proletariat in New York”, and how this relates to their position on the advanced workers.