Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Black Workers Congress

The Black Liberation Struggle, the Black Workers Congress, and Proletarian Revolution

The Student and Youth Movements

The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the final analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you. – Mao Tse Tung

The Student Movement

Taking their cue from the militant black masses who had just successfully defeated the Alabama power structure through the ’Montgomery Bus Boycott’, Black students boarded the trains, buses and cars, kicked off the “freedom rides”, and the modern revolutionary student movement was on its way. Since then, more than fifteen years have passed, years full of historic changes, not only for the student movement and Black people, but for the American people as a whole. There has been a tremendous growth of all the fundamental contradictions of imperialism. The anti-imperialist class struggle is growing deeper and more intense. The revolutionary waves are rising. The contradiction between the evil system of imperialism and the masses of oppressed working people in the U.S. has never before manifested itself so forcefully and so clearly. These changes and this situation is due in no small part to the mass, anti-imperialist student movement which has shaken U.S. society in a profound way.

The student movement grew and developed on the basis of the revolutionary upsurge of the masses, particularly the Black liberation struggle, and in turn has stimulated and deepened the revolutionary movement in the U.S. – from the “freedom rides and the ”free speech” struggles, to “SNCC” and “friends of SNCC”, from “Black Power” and the anti-war movement, to the Black Panthers and SDS, from Cambodia and Kent State to “Orangeburg and Jackson State”, to Columbia, San Francisco State, Black Studies, The Pentagon, Southern U., etc. There are very few communists and revolutionary nationalists in the U.S., today who were not baptized by this tidal wave called the American student movement. There have been few families who did not have a son or daughter involved in it, and even fewer people who were not touched by it in some profound way.

But what is the nature of this student movement which has caused so much turmoil in America? What position do students hold in society, and what political role do they play? What is the relationship between the student movement and the revolutionary movement of the oppressed nationalities and proletariat as a whole?

Lenin said that there are at least four major groupings among students: (A) the “indifferent ” crowds –persons completely indifferent to the student movement, (B) the academics those who favour student movements of an exclusively academic type, (c) opponents of the student movements in general, (d) the politically minded.” Life has fully confirmed Lenin’s thoughts. It is obvious that among students in capitalist society there are, and are bound to be groups differing greatly in their class outlook and political stand. Why? Because students come from various social, economic and political backgrounds, live in the “oppressor” Anglo-Nation or the “oppressed” Black Nation, and therefore, express the development of the different class interests and political groupings of the society as a whole. The school system itself is institutionalized and divided along class and national, even ethnic lines. There are working class schools and bourgeois schools, black schools and white schools, Jewish schools and Catholic schools. Students would not be what they are, and the school system would not be what it is, if their political grouping and structure did not correspond to, or at least reflect, the nature of the society as a whole. Students of bourgeois colleges like Columbia, Yale and Harvard, graduate directly into the upper ranks and service of the bourgeoisie. Students of “intermediate” (usually state schools) like Michigan, USC, etc. usually enter the upper petty-bourgeoisie – upper and middle management, technicians, scientists, engineers, professors, etc. Students of the lower schools like the junior colleges and less “endowed” universities, usually the lower petty bourgeoisie – high school teachers, social workers, etc., or the working class for lack of jobs. AH and all, this is pretty much the way it works in the U.S.

The same situation more or less exists inside the Black Nation. There are Black bourgeois schools like Howard and Lincoln and Tuskegee and Fisk, Black petty bourgeois or intermediate colleges like Dillard, Xavier, etc., and Black working class (meaning generally consisting of students from working class families) like Florida, A & M, Southern University in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport, Temple in Phili., etc., etc.

What all students have in common are that they are a strata of the intelligentsia, no matter what class, because they all reflect and articulate the particular interest of this or that political grouping or class. As long as they are students they play no role in the productive process and are thus in transition from one class into another, or re-enter the class from which they came. As a rule they are the most active and most easily ignited grouping in society. But they are not a class in and of themselves and must inevitably follow the lead of one or the other two basic classes in society – the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. Precisely because the students occupy a position in between that of the two great classes, their movement is characterized by the vacillations and instability typical of the petty-bourgeoisie, Inclinations to go from one extreme Right opportunism and defeatism”, are characteristics of students in general, and of the U.S. student movement in particular.

When the wave of revolutionary student struggle reached its highest crest, around the time of the great San Francisco State struggle and the hegemony of SDS, the imperialist bourgeoisie moved on the offensive. An all out attack against the militant student movement was conducted with the aim of “confusing, dividing and isolating” this struggle from the anti-imperialist movement and the leadership of the proletariat. The spearhead of this offensive were Trotskyist and Revisionist elements who deeply penetrated the student movement, particularly the anti-war section. Taking advantage of the sincere but spontaneous revolutionary inclinations of the students against imperialism and the oppression of Black people, these elements, armed with the “left” opportunism and phrase-mongering of the Trotskyites on the one hand, and the right opportunism of the revisionists on the other, through organizations such as YSA, NPAC, ultra-revolutionary bourgeois and petty bourgeois rhetoric and frivolous child-like political activity, which disillusioned many students and temporarily set-back the movement as a whole, especially by driving a deeper wedge between the revolutionary student movement and the Black liberation movement and proletarian movement as a whole. Especially harmful to the revolutionary movement was the trash these elements ran inside the student movement, the “new theories” of “revolution”, particularly the one where they deny the leading role of the working class in the revolutionary movement while spreading the lie that “students, youth and intellectuals” were the most revolutionary and decisive class!

No matter how massive or developed the student movement may be, whether in France, Italy or the U.S., it can only play a positive and revolutionary role in overthrowing imperialism if it unites with the working class movement and places itself under the leadership and guidance of the proletariat and its vanguard-the genuine Communist Party.


The most important feature of the present stage of the Black student movement has been the growing interest in Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought and the coordinated actions between -Black students and Black workers. With the sharpening of the national-revolutionary struggle of Black people, and the increasing polarization of the different classes within the Black community, Black students have more begun to discard the bourgeois nationalism and mysticism of Immamu Baraka and the Stokley Carmichaels for the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. Many are moving beyond support of the African peoples struggle only, to embrace anti-imperialism in general. Many are discarding the bullshit about “whitey” in general and are beginning to see the class structure of the Anglo-American nation, and even more so, the class structure of the Black Nation. Many are beginning to see beneath the double-talk of the Black bourgeoisie and their millions, a dangerous enemy of the revolutionary movement of Black people. Such is the general trend of the Black student movement today.

Since the days of SNCC, the Black student movement has always developed and matured on the basis of the deepening of the Black liberation movement and the ideological struggle within the student movement itself. Because the Black proletariat was not in a position to lead the early Civil Rights struggle, and the later “Black Power” movement and because of the petty bourgeois nature of the student movement itself, students followed the lead of the Black bourgeois and petty bourgeois classes. No less a factor in this, was again the revisionist cowardly CPUSA who was scared to death of the Black Student movement as they were of revolution in general.

Naturally this would cause students to think communism in general was not revolutionary. But the class struggle kept on. The first real division of the Black student movement began in SNCC, when the organization split basically into two camps- bourgeois nationalist and revolutionary nationalist. The bourgeois nationalist forces were represented more or less by people like Julian Bond, John Lewis, etc. while the revolutionary nationalist were represented by elements like H. “Rap” Brown, Cleve Sellers, and for a time Stokely Carmichael. The bourgeois nationalist forces went down south – after the rich Zionists cut off the funds, for SNCC’s support of the Arab’s people struggle, and hooked up with SCLC and revolutionary nationalists drifted towards the Panthers for a while, until they found out that the Panthers were serious about M-L and alliances with whites, and until Huey Newton defined revolutionary nationalism for them in this way – “anyone who wants to be a revolutionary nationalist in this country, must out of necessity be a socialist.”

From then on the Black student movement remained divided into two, and this division was reflected in just about every major struggle, subsequently – the Black Athletes struggle, the Black Studies Movement, the “go back to the Black community” movement, the struggle for open admissions, the Pan Africanist movement, etc., etc.

It wasn’t until the huge Black proletariat began to stir in the giant auto plants in Detroit, that Marxism-Leninism made a breakthrough in the Black Student movement. This breakthrough began on the Wayne State Campus in Detroit with the publication of the student newspaper, The South End, under the editorship of John Watson – an open member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The famous headline of this paper was – “One class conscious worker is worth a hundred students”, and if a slight exaggeration, it nevertheless expressed the leading role of the emerging Black proletariat within the Black Liberation movement. The League played a tremendous role in re-vitalizing the student movement in Detroit at the point of its lowest ebb. But after the split and disintegration of the League, the Black student movement which was beginning to gravitate toward the Black proletariat for correction, was again left without direction and leadership.

From about 1969 to 1972 the struggles of Black students on both the Black and white campuses, were mainly of an “academic” nature (open admissions, etc.) until the massacre at Jackson State which re-kindled a short-lived reaction. Though the Black Workers Congress was formed during this time it did not pay any attention whatsoever to the student movement even though half of its members came from that struggle themselves! This is because the Congress while having an “economist and opportunist” line on the worker’s movement, had a “sectarian” attitude towards the student movement. Forman and the BWC leadership at the time, used to run that “all students should leave the campuses and go into workplace”, and that “students weren’t worth the effort”, etc., etc. Naturally this line did great harm to both the BWC and the Black student movement, which was in serious need of conscious revolutionary direction.

In the later half of 72 and early 73, we witnessed a profound deepening of the Black student movement on the campuses. Black workers, hard pressed by the cuts in their wages and increases in their workloads in the universities, carried on one militant struggle after mother through strikes and work-stoppages. Many students, black and white responded to this call with solidarity demonstrations and student strikes particularly at Temple in Phili, at Columbia in N.Y., in Madison and in Chicago. The profound example of this combined worker-student activity against imperialism was the Southern student, Black longshoremen’s struggle against the importation of chrome from Rhodesia in Louisiana. For the first time in modern history of the U.S. Here were the two most revolutionary sectors of the Black community fighting side by side against the imperialist power structure in solidarity with the liberation struggles of their African brothers and sisters. Similar activity has also occurred in Baltimore, where elements of the African Liberation Day Committee United with the BWC and the Black longshoremen and were able to stop and disrupt the chrome shipments there. Through these struggles students have begun to see the leading role the Black proletariat is playing in the struggle against U.S. imperialism today. This is causing them to accept the leading role of proletarian ideology in the revolutionary movement as a whole. Though relatively calm on the surface, the Black student movement with the guidance of the Black proletariat, is developing the necessary revolutionary consciousness and is stirring beneath the waves. Compared to the tidal waves of struggle which is to come, the past struggles of Black students will seem like ripples in a pond. Like the May 4th Movement in China, the Black student movement is bound to bring forth the energy and determination it knows so well, and will once again become part of the valiant struggle of Black people which gave it birth.


For communists and revolutionaries inside and out of the student movement, white and black, we must do everything possible to help develop and broaden this movement, leading it to and directing it towards the interest of the proletariat and oppressed nationalities. It is our duty to wage ideological struggle against the bourgeois and petty bourgeois influences of the Trotskyites, Revisionists, PLers, and other opportunist and their front organizations who seek to divorce the student movement from the struggles of the working class and oppressed. It is our duty to explain to the students the objective, anti-imperialist nature of their struggles, and to try to turn this struggle into a conscious anti-imperialist one. It is our duty to intensify our political work inside the student movement making it once again a powerful arm of the revolutionary struggle in the U.S. The working class for its part, is building up a strong proletarian organization – a new Communist Party. It will never again give its leading role to anybody, in regards to the revolutionary struggle of the masses. But it will support any genuine revolutionary tendency which will weaken imperialism and bring proletarian revolution a day closer. Students for their part must also build up revolutionary student organizations for waging struggle for the correct line in the student movement. It does not matter if these organizations are “national” or “multi-national” in form. We are concerned only with their politics and their revolutionary essence. The conditions for struggle do not always develop as fast as some might wish – all movements have their ebb and flow – but these conditions develop nevertheless. The student movement is not “bogged down”, neither its black or white wing, as some have contended. If the storm doesn’t break out today, then maybe it will tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but you best believe it will break!


The youth movement and the student movement are not quite the same thing. Though made up of very young people, the student movement generally refers to the struggles on the campuses and universities, and the movement of petty bourgeois youth in general. When we speak of the “youth” movement, however, we are generally talking about high school students and working class youth in and out of school.

The position and condition of youth in imperialist America is a disgrace! About a hundred years ago, when U.S. capitalism was on the rise, the sons and daughters of the working class were used as a source of cheap labor to work for 10 to 16 hours a day in brutal, slave-like conditions. The working class was faced with the fact that their own children were used by the capitalists to lower their wages. The conditions of the youth were so bad that even bourgeois writers like Charles Dickens was moved to tears, and forced to write plays like “Oliver Twist” which illuminated the horrible conditions of the time.

With the development of imperialism and the general crisis of capitalism, with its wars, massive unemployment and economic decay, the position of youth grows even more desperate. Education, unlike in the early days when the capitalist had a need for a basically educated youth to understand the more complex machinery, etc., has now become less necessary, and even burdensome for the bourgeoisie in terms of cost and related “political problems”, so they try to roll back the entire “educational system”, throwing the youth into the streets. Unable to find jobs in an already overcrowded labor market, millions of youth are left to “go it alone”, with little or no opportunity, training or advice. They become prey for “recruit” hungry military men who are anxious to make their quotas of cannon fodder for the next imperialist war. Or they become prey for every type of social degenerate of the street and finally end up in the penitentiary. In the U.S. today the unemployment rate is highest for persons between 14 and 21, the percentage being triple that for adults. As a result many of today’s youth have never worked in their lives, some never will.

At the same time, another tendency is taking place among the youth. The growth and expansion of heavy industry in the U.S., particularly since WW II, the intense speed-up and hazards of the job, exhausts the labour power of the worker much more quickly than before. This intense labor creates the need for ever increasing numbers of young workers while the older generation is driven more and more into early retirement. There is a common saying among workers in the auto industry that “working on the line is a young man’s job” – you can count the workers over forty-five on the assembly line with one hand. The result of this process is the increased importance of the part played by young workers in a productive process – younger workers are employed to a greater extent than formerly at the point of production. And recent experience has confirmed that these young workers are beginning to play a greater part in the class struggle as a whole.

Scared to death and fully aware of the growing importance of young workers in the political and social life of the country, the bourgeoisie, which has not a penny to spare for the unemployed, the aging, the sick and the poor, spends and makes billions on keeping the young entertained, bemused and confused with drugs, sex and alcohol, sports, games and “recreation” of all sorts. Religion, “Jesus Freaking”, devil-worshipping, horoscoping, drag-racing, dare deviling, etc., etc., in fact, everything possible is done to direct young workers from the revolutionary class struggle and to kill any political interest they may have. The bourgeoisie themselves, who want to capture the ’heart and minds’ of the younger generation, uses their ambition and poverty to win them for the Army, Navy, Marines and Green Berets, in short, for militarism. This is the reason why most youth while still young are encouraged to join “Boy Scouts”, “Girl Scout”, “Camp Fire Girls”, YMCA and YWCA, military academies and so forth. Their are a multitude of paramilitary organizations of this type, not including the numerous ROTC programs, that have the tasks of indoctrinating youth towards “Americanism” and “Patriotism”, etc., in a word, preparing them to be cannon fodder for fascism and imperialist wars.

But the radicalization of youth and young workers in particular, their increasing participation in the anti-imperialist movements, is far outstripping the ability of communist, and revolutionaries to prepare meaningful organizational and political work among them. As a result many gravitate towards the revisionist and Trotskyite organizations like YWLL (young workers “liberation” league), and YSA (young socialist alliance) and even to semi-fascist organizations like the JDL (Jewish “Defense” League). Still others, especially from among the black and latin youth in the ghetto, form and join gangs that are used by the police to terrorize the black and Spanish speaking communities. This is also true of the petty bourgeois youth in college and universities who want to become professional and find when they graduate that there’s nothing for them but an overcrowded job market filled with unemployed proletarians (many with “degrees”).

The present young generation is a generation born into a world of chaos – a “ball of confusion” as they call it. Products of broken homes, they are driven from pillar to post, working when they can, stealing when they can’t. They feel the full weight and thus see the brutal contradictions of the degenerate, decaying imperialist America. When they rebel against this as they always do, the full brunt of the repressive state apparatus goes into action against them. The hypocritical adult bourgeois society is scared to death of the youth. They look at the lively, healthy youth and all they can see is their own doom approaching. They therefore try to divert this boundless energy into useless or reactionary channels so as to help them solve its crisis at the expense of the oppressed masses and the working class through fascism and war.

Youth play a vanguard role no matter what class they belong to. Without the support and participation of youth, it is impossible to have a genuine revolutionary movement. And as Lenin said we must be patient as possible with their faults and strive to correct them gradually, mainly by persuasion, and not by fighting them:

Frequently, the middle aged and the aged do not know how to approach the youth in the proper way; for, necessarily, the youth must come to revolution in a different way by other paths, in other forms, under other circumstances than their fathers. – Lenin (Task of the Youth Leagues)

The task of communist, and revolutionaries today, who have not paid sufficient attention to the youth question in the past, and this must be admitted, is to link up with the youth, young workers and young bloods in the streets – to win them over to the proletarian vanguard and the anti-imperialist movement by introducing socialist consciousness into their struggles, and by helping them to organize themselves for struggle around their immediate needs, and helping them to distinguish read friends from real enemies. At the same time we must tell and show them that they have no future under capitalism. Their only future lies in the revolution, and proletarian revolution at that!