Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

I Wor Kuen

Two Letters from IWK to the National Liaison Committee


First Published: IWK Journal, No. 1, August 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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July 11, 1973 Letter to the RU, BWC, PRRWO

To the Central Committees of the Black Workers Congress, the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization, and the Revolutionary Union

Dear Comrades:

It has been a year since the formation of the Liason Committees. In the course of this year it has become apparent that certain political questions central to the nature and purpose of the L.C.’s must be clarified. We are writing this letter in the spirit of building further unity between our organisations.

This letter will cover some areas that have been discussed in the National Liason Committee already, and which must be thoroughly clarified resolved in order for the N.L.C. to continue in its present form.

I. The National Question.
II. Party Building
III. Methods of Resolving Differences and Promoting Struggle.

I. The National Question

A. The Black Nation

We are still studying and discussing this question and we would like some clarification:

1. Why and in what way is the Black bourgeoisie counter-revolutionary?
2. What is the relationship of the Black bourgeoisie to the monopoly capitalist class?
3. Does the concept of a dispersed nation (a nation without territorial base) lead to emphasizing cultural and psychological factors as the primary factor binding the nation together? (i.e. cultural nationalism?) In what way does it not?
4. How is the right to self-determination of a dispersed proletarian nation practically advanced at this time?
5. In what ways does the position that Black people are a national minority liquidate the National Question for Blacks?

B. Asian National Minorities

We understand the position of the BWC, PRRWO, and RU as expressed in May N.L.C. meeting is as follows:

The Japanese and Filipino national minorities are overwhelmingly petty bourgeois.

The Chinese, although about half are in the working class, since most have either fled the socialist homeland, or come from petty bourgeois backgrounds in Hong Kong or Taiwan, have small potential. Furthermore, there is no strategic value in organising Chinese restaurant and garment workers. This is because most of the garment and restaurant businesses in Chinatown are family-owned, and therefore, economic struggles against the employers do not attack monopoly capital. The strategy for Chinese American communists should be to organize Chinese workers primarily in a multi-national context, in highly socialized industries such as the post office. Even though there may be a very small number of Chinese in these industries, Chinese workers in such industries represent the most highly conscious proletarian elements. Their struggle along with Black, Brown and white workers will “spark” economic and political struggle among garment and restaurant workers.

The; representative from the RU further stated that the difficulty in organising Chinese immigrant workers who did hold citizenship was compounded because they are seeking legal status in this country. He said there was very little potential. His exact words: “How can you organize someone against the State when they are trying to become part of it?”

We disagree with the above stated position on the nature of Chinese-American workers. The idea that most Chinese garment shops and restaurants are family-owned, employing cousins, brothers and sisters is a myth and a stereotype. Chinese restaurant workers who work in Chinatown are almost completely non-unionized, receive usually less than $1.50/hour wages, have no benefits and work an average of 50-60 hour week. Economic exploitation of workers is extremely intense, and no family affair, Chinese garment and restaurant workers have been seeking unionization and have begun to organize together in many ways.

An estimation of the revolutionary role of Chinese workers cannot be made merely upon a superficial: analysis such as “they come mainly from petty bourgeois backgrounds ” and, “they are not overwhelmingly proletarian.” We must take a more dialectical view, and see how the effects of imperialism in Kong Kong and Taiwan, and how class exploitation and national oppression in the U.S. will give rise to revolutionary consciousness and fervor among immigrants. As the contradictions of imperialism intensify, various strata within the working class and petty bourgeois strata as well will see more and more that their class interests are opposed to the monopoly capitalists. To rely solely on the strategic core of the proletariat, and to negate the revolutionary role of the Chinese working sector and Chinese national minority is to fail into mechanical materialism.

The role of socialist China has been a significant factor in the development of a high level of proletarian consciousness among Chinese-speaking workers. This has been a real contribution to the overall revolutionary struggle in America, The mass celebrations of October 1st which are now important events in the struggle, originally were initiated by workers in Chinatown.

We consider the organising of garment and restaurant workers as important. They are not the. strategic core of the proletariat, but they are one of the most exploited sectors of the proletariat. As other Third World workers, they are used as a cheap labor pool by the monopoly capitalists. And, along with other sectors of the working class, such as the unemployed, they comprise an Important part of the proletariat which must be organised.

Furthermore, the organizing of Chinese garment and restaurant workers will have a decisive impact, and will be an inspiration for the Chinese national minority as a whole. And, it will be an important contribution to building working class solidarity.

The fight against national oppression is in the interests of the entire working class, and is certainly one of the leading struggles of the American revolution, it is a matter of principle. The organizing of Chinatown workers is a component part of the Chinese national minority struggle against national oppression. It is a serious error to belittle this political work on the basis of its little “strategic value.”

We feel that the RU’s statement regarding Chinese immigrant workers– “wanting to join the State”–reflects a very superficial understanding. Of course, individual aspirations of immigrants must be understood, and there are definite limitations to involving them in revolutionary or communist, activity when their status and future in this country is not fully clear legally. But, the vast majority of immigrant workers are not trying to become a part of this oppressive, imperialist State, but struggling to achieve equal rights and opportunities in the U.S. The democratic rights of permanent residents and citizens must, be upheld by communists, and the masses must be drawn into political struggle to achieve full rights and equality. The understanding among immigrant workers who are forced into the worst jobs and living, conditions upon entering the U.S. develops rapidly that the State does not protect their interests: as workers or as oppressed national minorities.

[We also stated that we had no basis to state anything about the Japanese and Filipino national minorities.]

II. The National Liason Committee and Party Building

At the last N.L.C. meeting, a proposal was put forward by the representatives of the BWC, PRRWO, and RU regarding the role of the N.L.C. in party building. This proposal was first presented at the previous N.L.C, meeting by the representatives of the PRRWO and RU. We understand the proposal to be the following:

That the N.L.C. [itself] should be a center to struggle and consolidate one unified line among the four organizations. The representatives to the N.L.C. should struggle to come to unity on major questions facing the communist movement, Once unity is reached in the N.L.C.; the positions should be brought back and struggled for within the leadership bodies of the respective organizations. The four organizations would be committed to consolidating one line, and to centralized planning on the lower levels (i.e. the local L.C.’s and lower levels of each organization) on the basis of a unified line.

Furthermore, the proposal stated:

That the N.L.C. was the core of the new communist party. The party will come about through a series of mergers of the four organizations.

Other communist forces may join later and merge also. The N.L.C. is a pre-party formation, the formation immediately preceeding the formation of the party itself. The PRRWO said that the N.L.C. should function on the basis of democratic centralism of a “new type” meaning that the minority is not subordinate to the majority, when unanimous decisions are reached they are binding, and the lower levels are subordinate to the higher levels. [The highest level being the meeting of the national representatives of the four organizations.]


The Black Marxist-Leninist organization will be longer in existence than the Marxist-Leninist organizations of the other national minorities. This is because of the existence of a Black nation of the new type. Before merger, the Black M-L organization must have gained influence over and united a significant sector of the Black proletariat. It must have correctly implemented a proletarian line, summed it up, and given leadership to the Black proletariat and national liberation struggle.

The Puerto Rican M-L organization has a longer basis of existence before merger with the multi-national M-L organization than does the Asian M-L organization. This is due to the fact that the Puerto Rican national minority is overwhelmingly working class, while the Asian national minorities are not overwhelmingly working class. The Puerto Rican national minority is much more politically conscious and active than the Asian national minorities.

The proposal also stated that the immediate task of the M-L organisations within the national minorities is to build anti-imperialist national forms to struggle for democratic rights. Once such an organization is built, the M-L organizations within the national minorities can dissolve and merge with the multi-national M-L organization.

The representative from the RU also stated that there is no basis for existence of either a Japanese or Filipino communist organization because these national minorities are overwhelmingly petty bourgeois. And, he stated that there is probably no basis for the existence of an Asian communist organization, although there is a basis for a Chinese communist organization at this time.

We would like to confirm if the above is a correct summation of oar comrade organizations’ positions. Ours is as follows.

We feel that the above summarized proposal is mechanical and does not recognize the political tasks of M-L organizations within the oppressed nationalities, as well as the organizational tasks. The political task of M-L organizations within the national minorities is to develop proletarian line and leadership within the democratic struggle far equality and justice, and to develop the leadership of the working class as a whole.

The question of merger of communist forms of organization and the formation of anti-imperialist forms to lead the struggle of the national minorities cannot be decided merely upon abstract formulae. The question of forms of organization, and their length of existence can only be determined as our line is developed, implemented and tested in the course of mass struggle. When the decision is made, to merge communist forms of organizations, questions must be evaluated such as how will that help advance the struggle of the oppressed nationality, as well as overall working class and communist unity. The decision is based upon a political line, political strategy and objective conditions.

The goal of our organization is to dissolve and merge into either a higher form of organisation or the party itself. We do not think that each M-L organization must have gained political leader ship over the entire working class sector of the national minority, or over the entire national minority before merging into a new form. The exact steps remain to be seen, but we do not agree with the mechanistic projection of series proposed at the N.L.C.

We do not consider the N.L.C. the core of the new party. While it is possible that we are the only pre-party formation in the country, and the body from which the new party will spring, we think that additional testing of our theory and practice within the working class and movements of the oppressed masses is necessary to firmly establish that. It is possible that we will be replaced by more advanced and correct ideas, and organization. To declare ourselves the core of the party and the only pre-party formation and to act upon that assumption at our present level would be an error.

[At this point, our letter raises a number of criticisms we held concerning many specific contradictions which arose over local work. We are not including them because much of it is repetitive and for security reasons. We are including the final section of our letter which refers to the concrete struggle over RU’s line and practice in the Asian movement in the Bay Area.]

The RU is involved in the struggles of the Asian national minorities. We have raised again and again to the RU representatives in the course of the N.L.C. meetings and local meetings certain clear questions. They are:

1. What is the strategy and plans of the RU in its work within the Asian national minorities?
2. What is the strategy of building ACC/WMS [Asian Community Center and Wei Min She] into an “anti-imperialist Asian organization” and how does the RU see the relationship between ACC/WMS and IWK as a communist organization?

We have from the beginning of the meetings been open about our criticisms of ACC/WMS and our perspective on that organization. We have always been open to meeting with them and conducting joint work. This is well known by the RU representative.

The two questions above were raised for principled discussion by us from the very beginning of the meetings and the RU has consistently refused to struggle to answer them. We have never demanded or even suggested to the RU that they either not work among Asian people at all, or that they withdraw from ACC/WMS. Our purpose then and now is to engage in a principled discussion with the RU so as to advance the unity within the Asian movement in particular and the revolutionary movement as a whole. We, therefore, again request from the RU a thorough response to the two above questions.

In summary, because of the serious nature of the N.L.C. and the sharpness of debate currently taking place, we request in writing from our three comrade organisations responses to the questions posed in the above letter:

1. The Black nation;
2. The Asian national minorities;
3. The N.L.C. and party building; and
4. On Methods of resolving differences and promoting struggle.

We look forward to hearing from you by August 3 1973. Please hand your responses to our N.L.C. representative.

In Unity,

Central Committee
I Wor Kuen

July 11, 1973

* * *

August 16,1973 Letter to the RU, BWC, and PRRWO from IWK

To the Central Committees of the Black Workers Congress, the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization and the Revolutionary Union

Dear Comrades:

We understand from the PRRWO representative that all three of your organizations will not reply to our July letter in writing because of security reasons. We cannot accept this explanation because prior to this time, minutes have been prepared and kept in writing. Therefore, to argue that to put anything in writing would endanger security is not understandable to us. We would still like written responses to our questions and positions. However, because we want to resolve this situation, if representatives of your organizations Central Committees would like to meet with us about our July letter, please notify ____________.

Furthermore, the reason why we place such importance in a thorough clarification of your organizations’ positions on these questions in because we cannot participate in something whose basis of unity is so unclear, We are very anxious to clarify and arrive at unity on those questions raised in our July letter. Until that time, we are suspending our participation in the local LC’s, and all its subordinate work-teams and commissions. In _______(city) the local LC has been functioning on the basis of positions that we are not in agreement with. For example, we do not agree that the N.L.C. is the core of the party, or that it should operate on democratic centralism of a new type. Our position on these questions were presented to you in our July letter. We hope that we can still meet together on a local level on the basis of local conditions to coordinate and develop our work in the interests of building the unity of the working class, developing the overall working class movement, and building an anti-imperialist movement.

We hope that we can clarify the situation as soon as possible.

In unity,

IWK Central Committee

August 6, 1973