Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Don H. Wright, Revolutionary Union

“What Road to Building a New Communist Party?”


First Published: The Guardian, April 25, 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


The following is the slightly condensed text of the speech given at the Guardian’s March 23 Forum on “What Road to Building a New Communist Party?” by Don H. Wright, a member of the central committee of the Revolutionary Union.


Comrades and friends. What I have to say is simple, not because the American revolution is simplistic but because when we talk about building a party in the U.S. we have to ask, where is the vanguard? Where are the people who will build that party?

The people are suffering, suffering under the yoke of imperialism in Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere in Europe and the working class is waging struggle. Here in the belly of the beast, there are increasing attacks on the living standards of working people, violent repression of the struggle of black people, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans and other minorities in this country. But increasingly the people are fighting back, blow for blow.

Mao has said that “Revolution is the main trend in the world today.” And so we must understand that the only solution in America is proletarian revolution. We have seen different tendencies and errors in dealing with the problem. We have seen opportunists, left and right, adventurists who viewed monopoly capitalism as just a big old giant that all you have to do is bust it in the kneecaps a couple of times and the whole thing will fall down of its own weight. And those on the right who overestimate the viability of the system and believe that parliamentary struggle in the electoral process under the bourgeoisie and peaceful transition is the answer: these are the revisionists.

But we understand that freedom is not free, we could say, “Give it up pal, we know what we want.” But the ruling class in this country knows all too well what we want. We want freedom from hunger, freedom from exploitation, freedom from fear and Insecurity. In short, we want the elimination and destruction of the exploiting class. This same class, however, will extend every effort and every ounce of its power to prevent us from getting what we want. This is the nature of the beast.

In the history of class society there is class struggle. This is a fundamental contradiction, between capital and labor, between the exploiter and exploited, between the oppressor and the oppressed. Further, it is an antagonistic contradiction and as it grows more intense it can only be resolved by class war, that is proletarian revolution-, and won only at great cost, ainít nobody giving away nothing. It can only be won in struggle. The people are suffering and it is the duty of revolutionaries to put forward a practical program to resolve the problem.

There is a need for a party. The capitalist class, the exploiting class, is well organized and has its own ideology. In order for the oppressed class to win, the proletariat–the broad masses of people–must also be well organized, firmly based on the ideology of the working class, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. As Mao Tsetung has said, “If there is to be a revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a party built on Marxist-Leninist theory, in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.” I also quote from Stalin, Foundations of Leninism:

“No army at war can dispense without an experienced general staff if it does not want to be doomed to defeat. Is it not clear that the proletariat can still less dispense with such a general staff if it does not want to allow itself to be devoured by its mortal enemies? But where is this general staff? Only the revolutionary party of the proletariat can serve as this general staff. The party is the general staff of the proletariat.”

BUILT FROM MASS STRUGGLE

Where does this party come from? Like correct ideas, it does not drop from the sky. It must be built, forged from the mass struggles. We believe we must accomplish two main things in the creation of a party. First, we know that a party must be built from mass struggle and not in the abstract, that revolutionary forces must lead mass struggles and in the process become one with the masses.

We know the party cannot be created in somebody’s living room and all the meetings in the world would not allow a few hundred or a few thousand revolutionaries to force a party on the masses of the people.

We can recall a similar situation in Russia between 1883-1901 where you had some advanced workers and many intellectuals who studied Marxism, who had scant ties with each other and even less with the broad masses of working people. Today, in America, the revolutionary organizations are in a period of consolidation. To develop each with the proletarian line, we must engage in more mass struggle and develop it with the correct line.

We must understand the dialectics between propaganda and mass work. That does not mean that the masses will create a party spontaneously. Communists, by really being part of the mass struggle and giving revolutionary leadership, must and can, find and train the people who are really the advanced workers and who are to be the core of the party. Until there’s been some consolidation of proletarian line, the task now is to define and develop that line in context of the struggle in the U.S. and accumulate more practice.

Again, as Stalin has stated, “The party cannot be only a vanguard detachment. It must be at the same time a detachment of the class, part of the class, closely bound up with it by all the fibers of its being.” The party of the proletariat has a long road to travel. In developing the thrust of the working class and the movement of the broad masses of people to the seizure of state power and beyond. Revolutionaries do not seize state power, communists do not seize state power, it is taken by the people with the party at its head and at the same time as an instrument of the class. To establish the dictatorship of the majority over the minority and maintain it until classes, as such, are eliminated. We must understand that in the formation of a genuine Communist party in the U.S., we must have really begun to sink deep roots among the masses of people, develop day-to-day struggles in the plant and in the streets.

In the past there has been a party building line which we believe still has currency. This line embodies the idea that united front work should only be engaged in within the principal task of party building, that engaging in day-to-day struggles of working people is not so important as bringing communism to the most advanced workers. We, the revolutionaries, will bring communism to the workers, if they can dig it. Of course revolutionaries must bring communism to the workers but communist propaganda cannot be the main emphasis, the main emphasis must be class struggles.

People learn by their own experiences. Workers hear lots of lies; any plant gate you go to in the U.S. there’s all kinds of lines going down–Trotskyites, revisionists, they all run the line. Workers understand mat real leadership is that which is being tested in struggle.

CENTRAL TASK?

Can party building be the central task of communists at this time, rather than uniting the class in struggle? This means that having a party is the principal contradiction, the key link to bring all the rest along. Which of the key tasks is principal–party building; revolutionary unity of the working class and proletarian leadership of the united front struggles or building the united front?

We believe that unless we can get proletarian forces together, unless we can build mass struggles in the workers movement, we cannot build a party. The RU does not believe it is the party or that it is the core of the party; that it is not a question of building this organization or that organization, but actually engaging in class struggle and developing the mass workers movement. A handful of revolutionaries cannot make the revolution by deciding one day that they are the party. This would be upside down.

Today, there is no revolutionary organization that can claim it is giving effective leadership to a large sector or segment of the working movement. Although increasingly more proletarians relate to anti-imperialist struggles in demonstrations, the struggles in organizations have not been embraced by the people as their organizations, respected and looked to for leadership.

Increasingly, we have seen the working people have come out, have begun to understand that the struggle of workers in the U.S. is the same struggle as the Vietnamese people, the same struggles of the workers in South Africa. But in the main, many workers believe that people who demonstrate, people who are out there on the streets are hippies and freaks. Generally, the workers have not been a part of these demonstrations. This is one of the tasks of communists that in fact, the working people have to understand that these are their struggles. They can only do that by correct leadership and development of that practice.

Some would say, wouldn’t it be better if we had a party now? Yes, it would also be better if we had state power, but the question is how do we get there?

PRINCIPAL CONTRADICTION

Of the three tasks–party building, building the unity of the working class and proletarian leadership in the united front struggles, and building the united front–we say that these are not just the tasks of the movement but of the society as a whole. We see that at this time the principal contradiction, the key link that will move the rest is the national question, the question of the unity of the working class, and its leadership.

We believe that there is a black nation of a new type, an overwhelmingly proletarian nation, historically constituted with a class structure and class struggle going on within it. It is a social phenomena that the black proletariat is more class conscious, more determined in struggle and it has to do with the dual oppression of black people. Which is not to say that every black worker is more advanced than every white worker, but due to the history of oppression, it is true overall.

It is important to understand that in order to build a lasting multi-national proletarian party you must raise the proletarian banner in the black nation and defeat bourgeois nationalism. We see the need at this time for multi-national and national forms. With the upsurge in the consciousness of white workers, favorable conditions exist to build both national and multi-national forms with a clear class line. It is not just multi-national organizations that can put forward a clear class line.

The merging of the two–the class struggle and the revolutionary national movement–is not static. It is not just a question of the black contradiction working itself out, but as it develops the class question comes to the fore. The purpose of a black proletarian organization is not to build a black proletariat state but to more concretely raise the proletarian banner in the black nation and develop a multi-national proletarian party and a multi-national proletarian state. These are not just groups or gatherings that are out there, it is the key to building a real party at this time.

As we have said before, the formation of a party yesterday would have been infinitely preferable to tomorrow. Nor do we think that in light of the necessary steps, we have to wait until the year 2000 to build a party. We believe it is imminent, that the proletarian line is being consolidated among the honest revolutionary organizations, among them represented here tonight, and through that struggle in practice we can see the formation of a party in the very near future.

We are not pessimistic, we have profound confidence in the masses and in the bright future and we know there ain’t no turning back.