Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

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


D. Unite to Expose, Tactics of United Front from Below and Above

Like their position on the trade unions, PRRWO has consistently held a semi-anarchist position on the united front. It has similarly undergone mutations through fierce struggle with the correct line that holds that building the base and united front from below is always fundamental, factory nuclei is the basic unit which correctly explains the interrelation of the different tasks and aspects.


In the June-July 1975 issue of Palante, PRRWO made the following statements on the united front from above:

(united front from above) negates the need to consolidate cores of advanced workers and negates the factory nuclei style of work – replacing these with broad united fronts with trade union bureaucrats, hospital administrators, and sold-out local poverty pimps and conscious anti–communist forces.

This semi-anarchist, Trotskyite line on building of factory nuclei and work in trade union struggles, by pitting the building of factory nuclei against the building of the united front through concrete struggles, amounts to the stage theory of the united front and of winning the advanced to Communism.

Factory nuclei are the basic units of Communist organization. We have to build them up to make every factory our fortress. Trade union fractions are also necessary in order to lead the struggles in the unions and to take industry-wide actions.

The basic question all organizations must ask themselves is how do you build factory nuclei, how do you win over the advanced? Propaganda is the principal method of winning over the advanced; however, propaganda by itself is not sufficient to win the advanced worker. They must be identified and won over by propaganda along with day-to-day struggles.

But is Communist leadership through factory nuclei possible without comrades knowing all forms of struggle, including united front tactics? And can Communists win over advanced workers who are responsible to the majority of workers without providing ideological and tactical leadership to advanced workers from the wealth of tactics known to Marxist-Leninists?

We don’t think you can. Certainly not for the vanguard of the proletariat. And not in a way such that Communism spreads and takes one fortress after another. Only semi-anarchists, with a scope as broad as a petty bourgeois hustler, can come’ out with a line to pit, in principle, united front tactics against the building of factory nuclei, and a line that said “united front from above and unite to expose negates the need to consolidate cores of advanced workers and negates the factory nuclei style of work”.

In the first general step of winning the vanguard of the proletariat over to communism, we must also use united front tactics. The winning of the vanguard of the working class to communism is inseparable from concrete struggles. We must also create the conditions, prepare to go from the first general step to the second general step. Over and beyond winning the advanced workers to communism, we must win over the majority of workers. And that preparation involves the exposure of trade union bureaucrats, their expulsion from the trade unions, and winning over grassroots leadership positions as organizational preparations for the second general step of searching for the forms of transition to socialism. And this cannot be done without united front tactics.


In the same Palante, PRRWO criticized WVO for uniting with the trade union mis-leaders: “The Marxist-Leninist line is not one of uniting from above, but one of placing all our energy and strength in our concrete time and conditions to building an independent and political movement of the rank and file...” (emphasis added).

Communists must spend most of our time and energy with the rank and file. That is indisputable, and we have waged struggle against the OL’s line on this question before. But PRRWO’s “placing all our energy and strength in our concrete time and conditions” is nothing but doing no work in trade union organizations, as before. The line of “only united front from below” is a time-honored Trotskyite line. The question of whether “only from below or from above as well as from below” was a general, fundamental tactical question that Lenin posed in his struggle with the new Iskra in 1905 (“Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”). Lenin pointed out clearly that “the Iskra principle of ’only from below and never from above’ is an anarchist principle, pure and simple.” This general principle applies in the epoch of the democratic revolution as well as in the struggle for socialism in the advanced capitalist countries, although the form of how the tactics and the tactical principles should be applied vary in different countries at different times and conditions. Lenin stated:

We have here a really general question of principle: [our emphasis] is revolutionary action permissible only from below, or also from above? To this general question we can find an answer in Marx and Engels...’The Bakunists,’ says Engels, ’had for years been propagating the idea that all revolutionary action from above downward was pernicious, and that everything must be organized and carried out from below upward.’ This, then is Engel’s answer to the general question of ’from above or from below’ raised by Iskra. The ’Iskra’ principle of ’only from below and never from above’ is an anarchist principle. (Report on the Question of the Participation of the Social-Democrats in a Provisional Revolutionary Government at the Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., Vol. 8, p. 390-2) (emphasis in original)

This fundamental Marxist-Leninist tactic applies to socialist revolution as well as to democratic revolution. Lenin and Stalin time and again struggled against the “left infantilism” in Britain and Germany, which considered all compromises and all tactical alliances with the trade union bureaucrats and other social props of the bourgeoisie as impermissible in principle; and against Trotsky’s “skipping-over theory” of “skipping over the reactionary character of the trade union leaders,” by a policy of “demonstrative and theatrical rupture” with them – a policy of no united from above.

We hold that united front from below is fundamental, and united front from above is conditional. But you have to grasp the dialectical relations between united front from below and united front from above. This is the only correct way to carry out building united front from below as fundamental. Piatnitsky, in the Third International, succinctly summed it up: “United front from above is to serve the united front from below and our rank and file work.” PRRWO, by absolutizing united front from below and totally liquidating united front from above, is exactly liquidating this dialectical relationship between’ the two, which is the same old mechanical methodology of pitting united front against factory nuclei, the same old semi-anarchism.


This line of “no united front from above” in principle is so out-and-out anti-Marxist, and so blatantly anarchistic, (and we have consistently struggled against them on this point) that PRRWO was forced to mutate their formulation. But their next formulation was the usual wriggling, the same old “yes....but...” business. They said “yes” to the united front from above as a general principle, but they added on that it cannot be applied at this time, because fascism is not here yet (!!), because we have no party yet, etc. etc. etc.

In essence, this is no change of position. Listen to their argument they use to justify themselves:

The Comintern clearly stated that you must build the united front from below first and that the masses must be clear of the possible dangers of the united front from above. To do otherwise is to give over the leadership of an unorganized rank and file to the union hacks. The united front from above must come from a position of strength”! (our emphasis). It is when the rank and file have been won over and organized that we can force the union bureaucrats to negotiate.” (Palante, Dec/Jan, 1976)

So instead of no united front from above in principle, you now have to qualify that it must come from a “position of strength.” Sure, we must come from a position of strength. But the question is: how are we to determine whether we have enough strength or not to apply the united front from above?

For PRRWO, enough strength means “it is when the rank and file have been won over and organized that we can force the union bureaucrats to negotiate.” The simple fact is that if we have already won over and organized the rank and file, there will be no need to build the united front. So you see, PRRWO, specifying with such pre-conditions for applying the united front from above amounts to ruling out all circumstances when the united front from above should be applied.

Now, to play it safe, they also have a “softer” version of their mutation. In their “Party Building in the Heat of Class Struggle” pamphlet, they said:

Our position, therefore, is that the united front from above in general terms is not applicable at this time, place, and condition; although in a particular situation where some work with the rank and file has been accomplished, where there is some strength and the advanced elements are clear as to the tactic, then it may be applicable... So it was not forming a united front from above and below that was incorrect in principle. What was incorrect was to place more emphasis on the united front from above, when in our present situation the work has not been done of raising the level of the advanced to understand their role in uniting the rest of the rank and file, and over what issues we should then negotiate with the leaders. (p. 21)

So here, instead of “when the rank and file have been won over and organized,” they have “when some work with the rank and file has been accomplished;” instead of “a position of strength,” they now have “where there is some strength.” Check this out, comrades. This is nothing but the low trick of slimy wriggling that the OL is known for. They can no longer fool genuine communists who have seen through the same wriggling, the same trick of the right opportunist RCP and OL. You may have “softened” your pre-condition for applying united front from above in appearance, but you are still negating the essence of the Marxist-Leninist principle of united front and unite to expose. (We will go into the difference between the two later.)


United front is a tactic, and just like all other tactical questions, we have to apply the larger strategy to assess the concrete condition of time and place to determine what tactics to use and how to use them. Tactical leadership takes into account the state of the movement, the ebbs and flows, the relations of different classes, etc. at the particular moment. In this sense, we have to calculate our strength to determine whether united front from above is a correct tactic to apply. But strength is relative. If you don’t see it in relation to the strategic objective, and the larger strategic plan for the disposition of forces, to be carried through in using the united front tactic, it amounts to empty-phrase-mongering and a cover for opportunism. (The OL uses the general truth of “uniting with whoever can be united” – without laying out who, why, and under what conditions there can be unity for what – to cover-up for their unconditional alliance with the “progressive” trade union mis-leaders, and even with their “liberal-bourgeoisie.” The RCP uses the same general slogan to cover up their anarcho-syndicalist line of IWO (intermediate workers’ organizations): “roll on and roll over” the trade union bureaucrats, instead of supporting them like a rope supports a hanging man, under appropriate conditions.)

We uphold the Marxist-Leninist position that the conditions to enter into or build the united front from above are: “Accordingly, such blocs (between the Communists and reactionary leaders of the working class – ed.) may be formed only on two basic conditions, viz., that We are ensured freedom to criticize the reformist leaders, and that the necessary conditions for severing the masses from the reactionary leaders are ensured.” (Anglo-Russian Unity Committee, On the Opposition, Stalin, p. 358)

This is what Lenin meant by: “let us retain complete liberty of agitation, propaganda, and political activities.” (’Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder’) This is what Chairman Mao meant, by “independence and initiative” in applying united front tactics. So the question of strength is defined in relation to such conditions.

Dialectics is a two-edged knife. These fundamental teachings of MLMTTT have cut through the right opportunist line of OL before. Now they are cutting through PRRWO1s “left” opportunist line on this question.

We pointed this out when we fought OL’s right opportunism:

This is part of the strategic preparation for revolution. How is it that our young communist movement, with its principal task of building an anti-revisionist communist party, can muddle this question? On how to work concretely with trade unions, the OL, in their usual style, pulls out a quote (in Sept. Call) in this case, from “The Anglo-Russian Unity Committee” by Stalin that saying:
In order to gain access to the working class masses, in order to enlighten them as to the reactionary character of their political and trade union leaders, in order to sever from the reactionary leaders the sections of the working class that are moving to the left and becoming revolutionized, in order, consequently, to enhance the fighting ability of the working class as a whole” that “political agreements, political blocs between Communists and reactionary leaders of the working class are quite possible and permissible...” In order to justify their strategy of unity with a “section of the progressive trade union leadership”, they just pull any quote to make this position sound correct. But pulling quotes out of context justifies nothing and in this case proves exactly the opposite of what OL intended. This article was written in opposition to the Trotskyite dual unionist deviation. There is no disagreement, nowadays, in principle at least, that the dual unionist approach is incorrect. The question is how to work in trade unions. But in regard to the question of how to use this approach, the OL ignored a sentence right before the part they quoted. Stalin said, “In the first place, we have completely reserved for ourselves full freedom to criticize the reformist leaders of the British working class and have availed ourselves of that freedom to a degree unequalled by any other Communist Party in the world.” To further emphasize the point, Stalin quotes Lenin in the same article:
The communist party should propose a ’compromise’ to the Hendersons and Snowdens, an election agreement... Let us RETAIN COMPLETE LIBERTY (his emphasis) of agitation, propaganda and political activity. Without this last condition, of course, we cannot agree to a bloc, for it would be treachery; the British Communists must expose the Hendersons, and the Snowdens, the Mensheviks” (our emphasis)
The OL just “accidentally” failed to quote this passage on how to work within reactionary institutions. (“OL: A Most Dangerous Revisionist Trend in the US Communist Movement”, WV, Vol. 2 No. 1)


Strength is relative and strength for using united front tactics and unite to expose tactics is defined by those two basic conditions, as applied to the concrete time, place and conditions. This principle is determined by the larger question of strategy, in particular the question of the direction of the main blow. As we stated in WV, Vol. 2, No. l, in the “To the Forefront of the Struggle” article:

The imperialist bourgeoisie creates its labor aristocracy by buying off a minority within the working class through higher wages and other small privileges. It “pays” for these privileges through its super-profits from the exploitation of the colonies and the workers in less imperialist countries. And in the U.S., which has been the biggest and most stable imperialists in the world since World War I, reformism and the labor aristocracy are especially entrenched.

For these reasons, the exposure of these labor misleaders and other liberal reformists, is more than 2/3 of the way to proletarian revolution in the United States. With the cover blown off their misleaders, the monopoly capitalists won’t have a chance against the revolutionary proletariat, the plain truth is that we still have to spend more time exposing and fighting the misleaders in this country than we will spend on the bourgeoisie itself.

This is an important task and with the rise of both revolution and fascism in crisis it is more urgent than ever,...(p.39)

In order to ensure the victory of the proletarian socialist revolution over the bourgeoisie, we must work for the preparation (as distinct from “single spark” method of the RCP) through accumulation of revolutionary forces; to win over the vanguard first, but also, at the same time; to prepare the conditions for the winning over of the majority of the proletariat and its direct reserves under the undivided leadership of the Party. In order to do that, we must grasp the chief form of activity for Communists in this period, propaganda, winning over the advanced, and thoroughly exposing and isolating the trade union misleaders and other social props of the bourgeoisie who try to mislead and straitjacket the proletarian movement, and to prepare conditions to win the masses over to communism.

Although PRRWO, in their formulation, agree with this conception of the direction of the main blow, (see their pamphlet, “In the U.S. Pregnant with Revisionism: The Struggle for Proletarian Revolution Moves Ahead”; later they also agreed to include trade union misleaders), in essence they have not and cannot put this line into practice, precisely because they do not uphold the strategic and dialectical content of this line, namely, the question of why and how to expose and isolate these social props of the bourgeoisie and how to apply this larger strategical question to united front tactics and the tactics of “supporting” the seemingly militant misleaders “like a rope supports a hanged man”. This is rampant in their practice.


If PRRWO finds “unite to expose” so unacceptable and so absurd, perhaps they would care to go back to their own position on the Oct. 27th rally at Madison Sq. Garden. In their editorial in the Jan. ’75 issue of Palante, PRRWO said:

It is undeniably true that thousands of honest people, committed to the national liberation of Puerto Rico were there. This makes it all the more important to expose the revisionist and liberal lines that were presented there, and to commend the genuine revolutionary speakers, such as Jerry Tung of the Asian Coalition and Owusu Sadauki... for fulfilling their proletarian internationalist responsibility by educating the masses in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought. (Palante, Vol.1, No.2 Jan. ’75) (our emphasis)

Here, PRRWO clearly supports our position on united front from above and “unite to expose” in practice. They even “commend” us for “fulfilling proletarian internationalist responsibility by educating the masses in the spirit of MLMTTT”! Here, PRRWO, tempted by 17,000 people, saw the need to go to wherever the masses are, especially where revisionists and misleaders have dominant leadership, to go into the “guarded promises”, to expose the incorrect line and opportunism. So it is not a question of working “from a position of strength”, or a question of only after “the advanced elements are clear about the tactic of united front from above”, do we carry out exposure work among the masses. Surely PRRWO will admit that the “C”PUSA and PSP had a lot of influence over the whole event (it was largely called and organized by the revisionists from, beginning to end) and yet PRRWO was willing to go there and struggle. Why? Because Marxist-Leninists had the initiative and independence to carry out agitation and propaganda and because the “necessary conditions for severing the masses from their reactionary leaders were ensured.” At that time, PRRWO could still grasp the dialectics of bringing the science of MLMTTT to the masses whom the revisionists had, in the main, brought together. At that time, PRRWO was not afraid to “unite to hang”. But now they shrink away, crying “No united action with revisionists”. Let’s examine the excuses PRRWO gives for this new line of theirs.


In last year’s IWD event, PRRWO joined the opportunist OL forces and marched themselves down to the U.N. where they just agitated among themselves. They totally abandoned their duty as communists to provide and build proletarian leadership in the mass movement against women’s oppression.

Under the “left” cover of “no united action with revisionism” the essence of their line is right. In actuality, it means no struggle with revisionism! Instead of fighting for leadership of the broad coalition around the N.Y. Union Square rally, which-represented all the right and left positions within the women’s movement, PRRWO and OL dismissed this coalition as “revisionist” and went off to have a pure “anti-imperialist” rally. They were chanting the need for revolution to the hollow walls of the U.N. building and denouncing the revisionists only to themselves and the pigeons in the square.

In the Union Square rally, anti-imperialist speakers directly attacked U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism and their “detente” policy. In speaking to issues concerning working class and oppressed minority women, the anti-revisionist and anti-imperialist speakers exposed trade union misleaders and all social reformists in the women’s movement and called for militant rank and file movements to overthrow capitalism. This is what we mean by “unite to expose”. This is what Lenin meant by ”supporting Henderson in the same way as a rope supports a hanging man.”

The IWD Coalition had the full spectrum of left, center, and right forces within it. This is why we said that PRRWO is “breaking with the revisionists by breaking with the mass movement”. But in fact, this break means no break at all for it involves no exposure of revisionism in front of the masses. On the other hand, we have organized our own events in workplaces beforehand and we held a separate rally and had a separate contingent as well as having participated in their event.

This event was similar to the Madison Square Garden Solidarity event. While the revisionist and opportunist forces played the initiating role for the rally, the broad range of anti-imperialist and honest elements that were drawn to the call for a Women’s Day demonstration created excellent conditions for struggles to isolate and expose revisionism and give leadership to this event. Under clear communist leadership in different cities, we also organized and sponsored separate forums in support of Puerto Rican independence.

PRRWO, by uniting with OL’s “left in cover but right in essence” line of “no united action with revisionists,” also submit themselves to the reactionary “two combines into one” method of not differentiating the masses from the revisionists in the coalition. This view on the question of united front liquidates struggle and leads to unprincipled unity with the right opportunist OL.


We uphold the principle of “no united action with revisionists” as correctly put out by the CPC and PLA. We have polemicized against the “left” feint of the OL in their distortion of MIMTTT:

Lately, trying to support themselves, the OL has been misusing and distorting the meaning of a polemic written in 1965 by the Communist Party of China (CPC) against the revisionist “Communist” Party of the Soviet Union (“C”PSU), called “Refutation of the New Leaders of the CPSU on ’United Action.’”

Under their slogan of “united action,” the Soviet revisionists were trying to force the genuine Marxist-Leninist parties to accept their revisionist line and deprive these other parties to accept their revisionist line and deprive these other parties of their independence. They were trying to “unite” the world communist movement, not on the basis of Marxist-Leninist principles, but by subordinating all other parties to themselves and strangling all opposition. The revisionists used this “unity” slogan to bait the real Marxist-Leninists who opposed them, with charges of “factionalism” and “splittism.” At the same time, the revisionists used their slogan to cover the fact that by revising Marxism-Leninism and capitulating to U.S. imperialism [to force Vietnam to negotiate with U.S. imperialism to stop bombing, and not to get out of Vietnam!!], they were really splitting the world communist movement. (WV Newspaper, Vol. l, no. l, Supplement article on the OL.)

PRRWO has capitulated on the question to the OL both in practice and in theory. They quote “Party of Labor of Albania in Battle With Modern Revisionism” and distort it to justify their own “left” opportunist version of “no united action with revisionists.” (See Palante, Vol. 6, no. 3, 1976.)

In that article from Albania, Comrade Enver Hoxha explained the ML position on the International United Front Against Imperialism, of which the revisionist ”C”PSU, the representative of Soviet social-imperialism, is part of the target. In the struggle against the centrists, he went into further depth to explain why united action with these revisionists is exactly leading to no independence and no initiative and compromises ML with revisionism.

So you see comrades, PRRWO has now completed the vicious cycle and landed back on the same demagogy which they started with: from the “left” Trotskyite line of “never from above,” going through different mutations back to the same “left” opportunist line, only this time as the dialectics dictate, they end up in the same marsh with the OL. Both are incapable of really fighting revisionism, only one comes from the right and the other from the “left”! But both end up doing the same thing to each other, thinking that way that they are automatically Bolsheviks! How comforting and what a consolation!!


Where does RWL stand on this question?

After we struggled against their line put out in their Principles of Unity, that the strategy for socialist revolution in the U.S. is the United Front Against Imperialism strategy, they adopted the position that the united front is a tactic and not a strategy. They further supported our position of united front from below and above and the tactics of “unite to expose,” as concretely applied in last year’s International Women’s Day.

They have also shown us the united front tactic in some of the most successful African Liberation Day struggles.

But as our struggle against PRRWO’s and RWL’s opportunism intensified, they began to drift and openly stated in this year’s International Working Women’s Day Coalition meeting that, although they still hold to the united front as a tactic in principle, they qualified that position to the point where they no longer have a position on the united front tactics as applied in last year’s IWD. This is a position supposedly “slightly different” from PRRWO’s, according to them.

Comrades, this is a struggle between a correct and incorrect line, between MLMTTT and “left” opportunism on this question. There is no middle road. We had predicted and now witness an inch-by-inch “imperceptible” drift from a centrist position to the outrightly “left” opportunist position. Centrism derives its strength from revisionism and is a particular form of revisionism. That is why we said your position was a centrist opportunist position which has since then degenerated into “left” opportunism itself, as shown in your different political lines, such as the united front question and one on the advanced workers, and in your mutation on how to build the party on the proletarian ideological plane.


The united front from below is always fundamental. To push everything through the united front from above is straight-up right opportunism. In order to decide when to apply these tactics, we require concrete analysis of concrete conditions. When there is no basis for principles of unity, there can be no united front from above, since communists never compromise on principles. When we cannot be ensured that basic conditions of independence and initiative to carry out the exposure of the misleaders to win over the masses of workers, communists cannot join the united front from above, because this would defeat the whole purpose of this united front tactic.

But under conditions when the united front from above tactics cannot be applied, communists can still, under appropriate conditions, use the “unite to expose” tactic. Otherwise, it would mean that whenever there are revisionists or trade union mis-leaders, communists should automatically boycott work in factories under trade unions, or mass actions. This would be an out-and-out anarchist line, which even PRRWO doesn’t follow consistently. But there have been cases when PRRWO has actually followed this line. In last year’s April 26 mass rally in Washington, D.C., PRRWO, under the “left” cover of “the misleaders are class enemies,” and that “we must expose them to the advanced,” copped out from any organized action that was called by the misleaders, and just went there as observers. But we know what happened there. That’s because Communists like Worker’s Viewpoint and other militant rank and file elements had to lead militant contingents to carry out propaganda and agitation, with no help from PRRWO.


PRRWO further justifies their semi-anarchism and fear of “surrendering Marxism-Leninism to reformism” and “negating the factory nuclei style of work” by theorizing that “We don’t need the trade union leaders to bring the masses of workers to us. We need to bring the science of class warfare, Marxism-Leninism, to the working class.” (Palante, Jun/Jul.75) Such is the epitome of PRRWO’s ’left’ opportunist line, justified by all-rounded sophistry!

This all-rounded sophistry of course, as dialectics dictates, only exposes PRRWO even more all-roundedly.

The great mistake the Italian Communists and a section of the French Communists and Syndicalists make is in being content with the knowledge they already possess. They are content with knowing well enough that the representatives of the Second and Two-and-a-Half-Internationals, and also Paul Levi, Serrati and others, are very shrewd agents of the bourgeoisie and vehicles of their influence. But people, workers, who really know this, and who really understand its significance, are undoubtedly in the minority in Italy, Britain, the U.S.A. & France. Communists must not stew in their own juice... (“We Have Paid Too Much”, LCW, Vol.33)

This exposes PRRWO’s repudiation of some of the most fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism – that communists must work wherever masses are to be found and that masses must learn from their own experience.

As Dimitrov pointed out:

We ought never to forget the words of Lenin who warns us as strongly as possible:

... This is the whole point – we must not regard that which is obsolete for us as obsolete for the class, as obsolete for the masses. (Lenin, “Left”-wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder)

Is it not a fact, comrades, that in our ranks there are still quite a few such doctrinaire elements, who at all times and places sense nothing but danger in the policy of the united front? For such comrades the whole united front is one unrelieved peril. But this sectarian ’sticking to principle’ is nothing but political helplessness in face of the difficulties of directly leading the struggle of the masses. (The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class Against Fascism)

Does this remind comrades of PRRWO’s outcry that the united front tactic “has facilitated the work of the management and bureaucrats ... submerging our independence, belittles the role of the advanced... etc.” and sticking to their distorted version of the principle of ”no united action with revisionists”?

It is not a question of how you chant the “need to bring the science of class warfare, Marxism-Leninism, to the working class,” but a question of how you do it. It is not a question of how you chant “the role of the vanguard,” but how you do it. For PRRWO, ”in practice, methods of leading the masses have frequently been replaced by the methods of leading a narrow party group,”

Self-Satisfied sectarianism [sectarian to the working class!!] will not and cannot understand that the leadership of the working class by the Communist Party does not come of itself. The leading role of the Communist Party in the struggles of the working class must be won. (ibid)

Dimitrov at that time was struggling against both the right and ’left’ opportunists to correctly build the united front against war and fascism. We are, of course, under a different condition today, and our principal task is different. But these principles – which Lenin expounded and which Dimitrov vividly applied – of united front tactics, of how to win and provide communist leadership, of how to win the advanced and masses of workers, are general fundamental principles of MLMTTT that we must grasp at all times, and must apply according to our concrete time, place and conditions. Especially in this period of party building, when we must unite the Marxist-Leninists and win over the advanced to communism, when more and more workers from the day to day spontaneous struggle have increasing disillusionment of bourgeois politics and are open to communist politics, it is our duty and task as communists to our class brothers and sisters to further this growing fusion and concretely link it up to party building. The right opportunists, by pushing reformist politics, by collaborating with the trade union misleaders, as doing great damage to class struggle from the right. This right opportunism continues to be the main danger. But ’left’ opportunism like PRRWO is doing damage to the task of party building and fusion between the communist movement and the working class movement just like the right opportunists – only from the ’left’ as “self-satisfied sectarians” toward the working class. The party building motion cannot surge ahead unless all genuine Marxist-Leninists wage a fight on two fronts against both the right and the ’left’! This self-satisfied sectarianism, as Dimitrov put it, is “no longer an ’infantile disorder’... but a deeply rooted vice”!


Let’s go deeper into the question of methodology.

PRRWO’s line on united front, of united front from below first, then and only then united front from above, comes out to the same “two-stage theory” as their lines on propaganda and leading mass struggle, on factory nuclei and trade union work. The methodology behind it is the same rigid, rectilinear mechanical materialism, which cannot explain the dialectical process of development of a thing, i.e. the living dialectics of struggle is replaced by dead dogma.

As Dimitrov exposed such nonsense in “Unity of the Working Class Against Fascism”:

Comrades, just picture to yourselves a devotee of cut-and-dried theories of this kind, gazing upon our resolution and contriving his pet scheme with the zeal of a true pedant:
First, local united proletarian front from below;
Then, regional united front from below;
Thereafter, united front from above, passing through the same stages;
Then, unity in the trade union movement;
After that, the enlistment of other anti-fascist parties;
This is to be followed by the extended Popular Front, from above and from below.
After which the movement must be raised to a higher level, politicalized, revolutionized, and so on and so forth.
You will say, comrades, that this is sheer nonsense. I agree with you. But the unfortunate thing is that in some form or other this kind of sectarian nonsense is still to be found quite frequently in our ranks.

This sectarian nonsense and dead dogma, as Dimitrov pointed out,

fail to understand that the united proletarian front and the anti-fascist Popular Front are connected by the living dialectics of struggle; that they are interwoven, the one passing into the other in the process of the practical struggle against fascism, and that there is certainly no Chinese wall to keep them apart.. .for it cannot be seriously supposed that it is possible to establish a genuine anti-fascist Popular front (united front from above) without securing the unity of the working class itself, the leading force of this anti-fascist front. At the sad time, the further development of the united political front depends, to a considerable degree, upon its transformation into a Popular front against fascism. (Ibid)

He further pointed out:

...there can be no general panacea suitable for all cases, all countries, all peoples. In this matter universalism, the application of one and the same recipe to all countries is equivalent ... to ignorance, and ignorance should be flogged even when it stalks about, nay particularly when it stalks about in the cloak of cut-and-dried schemes. (Ibid, hard covered edition, p. 90)


PRRWO’s mechanical materialism in their inability to grasp the dialectical relations between united front and party building, is also concretely manifested in their pitting united front against the task of winning | over the advanced and party building.

The united front tactic is a tactic that can be applied at different levels and scales, depending on the larger strategy of revolution, overall tactics of the particular period and the specific situations of immediate struggle. There are united fronts applied at national levels throughout an entire period of revolution, such as the United Front Against Japanese Imperialism in China,

But in any case of the application of the united front tactic, there should always be a dialectical relation with party building. In pointing out the general relations between the three basic weapons, Chairman Mao said:

.. .the united front is a united front for carrying on armed struggle. And the Party is the heroic warrior wielding the two weapons, the united front and the armed struggle, to storm and shatter the enemy’s positions. That is how the three are related to each other.

Therefore the united front, armed struggle and Party building are the three fundamental questions for our Party in the Chinese revolution. Having a correct grasp of these three questions and their interrelations is tantamount to giving correct leadership to the whole Chinese revolution.

...The party’s failure or successes, its retreats or advances, its contraction or expansion, its development and consolidation are inevitably linked up with its relations with the bourgeoisie and with armed struggle. When the Party takes a correct political line on the question of forming a united front with the bourgeoisie or of breaking it up when forced to do so, the Party moves a step forward in its development, consolidation, bolshevization; but when it takes an incorrect line on its relations with the bourgeoisie, then our Party moves a step backward. Thus, for eighteen years, the building and bolshevization of the Party have been closely linked with its political line, with the correct or incorrect handling of the questions of the united front and armed struggle. (“Introducing the Communist”, Selected Works, Mao, Vol.2)

Although the concrete conditions of China are vastly different from that of the United States, and therefore the concrete forms and specific content of the three fundamental questions differ, nevertheless, we think the general truth of such a dialectical relation existing among the three applies universally.

This is why we say applying the correct line of unite to expose, united front tactics – just like correct lines for other questions – though we start poorly trained and weak, we gain strength through initiative and experience. This is the power of correct line, and this is the only correct proletarian outlook towards the question.

We, WVO, in holding and applying the correct line on this question and making great strides forward, have also committed deviations. This is still a thousand times better than those petty bourgeois democrats who are impatient, have a disdain for organization of the working class and thus shrink away. As Lenin said:

.. .where the representatives of the bourgeoisie are influencing the workers; and in this they the Communists must not shrink from making certain sacrifices and not be afraid of making mistakes, which, at first are inevitable in every new and difficult undertaking. The communists who refuse to understand this and who do not want to learn how to do it cannot hope to win over the majority of the workers; at all events, they are hindering and retarding the work of winning this majority. For communists, and all genuine adherents of the workers revolution, this is absolutely unpardonable. (“We Have Paid Too Much,” Lenin)

But when your fear of mistakes is justified theoretically, you have turned into ’left’ opportunists, and indeed, into “right-opportunists-inside-out.”


The right opportunist OL has a line on the relations between below and above that take on a right form, namely, the below is to serve the above, (See our article on OL in WV #3, Vol. II, No. 1) as concretely manifested in their trade union line, on reform issues, etc. Comrades, compare this with PRRWO. This is what they say about the conditions for using below to go into above; “the rank and file have been won over and organized that we can force the union bureaucrats to negotiate” (Party Building in the Heat of Class Struggle) and “raising the level of the advanced to understand their role in uniting the rest of the rank and file, and over what issues we should then negotiate with the leaders.” (Ibid) Now, we are clear how PRRWO sees the relations between united front from below and above and what united front from below is for, namely, in order to pressure the union bureaucrats to negotiate. This is a totally upside down relation between below and above, and amounts exactly to OL’s conception of below in order to serve above.

Right opportunists and ’left’ opportunists are strange bedfellows. Comrades may wonder why our ’left’ PRRWO and right OL can have unity on this fundamental theoretical point. We uphold that united front from below is always fundamental and united front from above is in order to serve below. United front from below can serve above in its turn (like rank and file militancy can press the trade union movements to broaden the coalition), BUT the whole purpose of using united front from below to serve above is always in order to have the above serve back the below (like broaden the coalition further broaden the building of the base). Since PRRWO does not recognize the aspect of how the united front from above can serve below, therefore whenever they use below to serve the above, the process ends there, i.e. the process ends at negotiations.

Now you see, there is no wonder why PRRWO, coming from the same theoretical deviation cannot see through and fight the right opportunism of OL as they cannot see through and fight the ’left’ feint of OL on this question. More, in practice PRRWO had joined the ranks of and had united action with OL in last year’s International Women’s Day coalition. For the same reason, repudiating the Marxist-Leninist teachings on this question, in practice, PRRWO comes out the same as RCP’s anarcho-syndicalist line of “roll on roll over,” which amounts to letting the trade union bureaucrats off the hook. You have the same theoretical bankruptcy although you may take a different political form; you not only cannot wage struggle against the Right but actually aids them; your practice amounts to the same effect as objectively being “soft on the revisionists,” and letting the trade union bureaucrats off the hook, in doing damage to class struggle; this is why we say you are ’left’ opportunists and are ’right-opportunists-inside-out’!!

As Stalin put it when he was fighting the same Trotskyite line then:

Let Trotsky and Zinoviev bear this in mind, ... They demand a demonstrative and theatrical rupture. But who would benefit from that theatrical gesture? Churchill and Chamberlain, Sassenbach and Oudegeest. That is what they want. That is what they are waiting for... No, comrades, we cannot adopt this adventurist course. But such is the fate of “ultra-left” phrasemongers. Their phrases are Leftist, but in practice it turns out that they are aiding the enemies of the working class. You go in on the Left and come out on the Right. (“Anglo-Russian Unity Committee,” On the Opposition. Lenin, p. 362, our emphasis)