Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Proletarian Cause

Ed George and Jeff Paul

Lessons Learned in the Struggle to Give Communist Leadership in a New England Factory


The original purpose of this article was to merely relate our experiences in organizing at the point of production. Now that purpose has changed.

Now we see the purpose is to show how our work was economist in nature, how we see that line is incorrect and how we are going about changing the direction of our practical work.

Now we see economism led us to a relatively isolated position and failed to involve workers in communist theory, analysis, and methods of work. We failed to lead them’ away from the spontaneous economic struggle and show the connection between economic and political struggles. In short we didn’t attempt to close the gap between the communist’ and the workers movement. After all, what is the role of a communist in the workers movement? It is to develop theory and to test it in our practical work in order to win workers to communism and to build a new Marxist-Leninist communist party.

The economist direction of our initial work came about for three reasons:

1) not having a firm grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and therefore the role of a party.
2) being in a small localized study group that was cut off from groups that had committed the same error and had corrected it.
3) lack of experience in organizing in a shop.

The Company

The shop makes soles and heels, so that it is directly related to the declining shoe industry in the area. During the 20’s and 30’s the area had many small rubber shops that are now out of business. The shop we work in came about as a result of these shops folding. The man who started the business began as a junk dealer. He repaired and put to use some of the heel and sole machines he bought from bankrupt firms. This went on until the war at which time he leased the place to the army and they built most of what is the factory today. After the war he bought the factory and the machines they installed. At that time the work force was about 800; today it is about 400. The factory mainly produces soles and heels and slabs, all of which are used in making shoes. Sponge is also produced. The main difference between this shop and the Big 4 in rubber is that the company doesn’t make tires. It has, however, grown into an international company with shops in South America, Europe, Israel and Canada.

The workers know that the company is profiting off their labor and that it buys or builds a new factory after every contract. For this reason they feel the company is not going to move out on them. They know they could get a large wage increase and the company would still be in good shape financially. Until recently, the last layoff was eleven years ago. And the one before that was thirty-five years ago. Both times the number of workers laid off was small and they were quickly called back. However, job eliminations have begun again, resulting in apathy and attacks on the layed off workers. Job eliminations only mean shift changes for some workers and these workers generally felt that not much could be done. Besides, they still had jobs.

The layed off workers were from the maintenance department, the most reactionary department in the shop. The remaining workers say how they were not good workers or they were not essential. This is only self delusion as the place is badly in need of repair and the maintenance department should be enlarged not reduced.

Factory Divisions

The factory rambles. It was once only one building and as the company grew, it kept adding to the building until it occupied a large area. About four hundred work in this funky old building. Half the jobs have two shifts; the others have three. There is a poorly managed lunch room that most workers don’t use anyway. Instead they bring their food and eat at their machines, in the break areas or in the bathrooms. This severely limits discussion among large numbers of workers. In addition, most workers don’t take their breaks and lunch at the same time. They have to be relieved from their jobs so the production job can continue to run. Most workers feel isolated from each other and apathetic about any change. Each shift only catches a glimpse of the other. Each department, although not surrounded by actual walls, is off limits to workers from other departments.

Racism and Sexism

The shop is broken down sexually into 80% male and 20% female. Racially it’s 40% white, 30% black and 30% brown. Most of the white workers, both men and women are of Polish Italian or Irish descent. Some immigrated here after the war. Most of the black workers were originally from the south and wound up here searching for work. The Spanish speaking people come from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Columbia and Guatemala. There are also some Haitians, Brazilians, Portugese and Trinidadian workers. The racial and ethnic interactions of these groups is good. Since the shop is overwhelming male, most women don’t look at the shop and what happens there as their main concern. They say their families are and they want to be able to spend more time with them. Twice in the last year the women–en masse–left work over patently false bomb scares, in order to get out early. Again, twice this past winter the women lead actual walkouts over inadequate heating in the plant. On both occasions the women were joined by some of the men. Almost all of the work women do is on the assembly line, where all jobs are tied to a collective piece rate. As a result solidarity is greater than in departments where individual piece rates exist. In some departments the men’s piece rate is dependent on the amount of material the women pass on–but rather than resentment, the situation causes greater solidarity between these departments. Most of the open sexism comes from men in the departments where there are no women.

The breakdown in age seems to be between those with 20 years or more service comprising 25% of the work force and those with less, 75%. The young workers, mostly under 30, work in the most oppressive departments. They make up the majority of the workers (almost 60%). They are, of course, mixed in race and sex and the most receptive to politics whereas most of the older workers are more interested in the shop itself. These older workers over 45 and with more than 20 years in the plant are more or less affected by paternalism. As stated earlier, the company is not old. This was the first shop the company owned. So, many of the older workers know the owner personally and therefore feel he would never betray them. They also feel themselves part of the company, whereas the younger workers feel less involved in, and thus more alienated from the company. Time in service to the company is far more important than age. For instance, some older workers who came here in the 50’s do not have this paternalized view of the company. In practice the racial, sexual, and age differences are secondary to class differences. A worker who sells out to the boss does so not because of his or her race, sex, age or ethnic background, but because of petty bourgeois attitudes of self seeking individualism and separation from the rest of the workers in the shop. People are isolated from the other workers because of a privileged position they have worked to attain. They put the interests of the great majority of the workers second to their own individual self-interest. These two attitudes of self seeking individualism and acceptance of paternalism seem to be the most important determinants of political behavior and stand above differences of sex, age, and race or ethnic background.

Piece Work

Piece work is one of the economic bases of disunity, individualism is fostered by the type of payment made. All production is piece work. Some jobs are rate plus incentive, but most are straight piece work. This setup works to attain maximum production from each worker by the worker disciplining himself or herself. He or she will work as fast and as hard as possible because each unit produced means more income.

Piece work survives because it plays on the feeling that a worker can make it if he or she wants. Most of the piece rate jobs involve one worker working on one or two machines alone. However, teams of workers on a production line, tied to a collective piece rate, make up 30-40% of the work force. These lines have between 2 and 7 workers on them. The departments with production lines tend to be the most unified. Production lines are overseen by operators who are union men; they receive orders from the company and then act to complete the orders by organizing production. The other workers don’t look upon them as bosses because they see them as necessary to the operation of the line. The company co-opts willing workers rather than randomly bribing unknown workers.

The most clear cut area of privilege is the maintenance department. There workers make from $.25 to $1.00 per/hour, more than production workers and have better health and insurance benefits. They belong to an A.F.L. union with a contract that comes up after the production workers contract. The jobs are all skilled or semi-skilled and until recently were all held by white males. Approximately 30 men work in this department with 8% to 10% being involved with the numbers racket in the shop. Anti-communism is strongest among these workers as a group. Some of the young workers were friendly with us until this paper was passed out and our being communists was made clear. We have tried to discuss the change in attitude toward us but have been met with coldness and baits.

The Numbers Racket

The numbers racket has two aspects: 1. It is a small business in the shop and subsequently its agents are the most petty bourgeois, individualistic workers in the shop. 2. It is the political organization of the right wing. The old union president is the brother of the bookie. Their family controls the numbers in the shop.

The book is set up with runners in most departments. The department with no runner working in it is covered by the runners from the maintenance department. This gives the bookie an economic base in the shop that covers all departments and all shifts. The ascension of the bookie’s brother to political power in the Union cemented their relationship to the company. Many of the runners are or have been Union officials. Others have tried to book numbers in the past and have been fired. By taking political power in the Union and subsequently selling out the workers, they have been able to openly take numbers, uninhibited by the company. The relationship is then that the company allows an illegal activity, bookmaking, to exist in return for low wages and labor peace.

After this article was passed out and subsequently leaked to the right wing, one of us was attacked physically by three members of the family. When this failed to frighten him out of the shop, he was again attacked by one of the runners. This is more fully explained later.

Union Corruption

The local union leadership has a long history of corruption. Leader after leader has been bought off by the company. Three or four leaders in the last 25 years have fit this mold. The only exception was elected six years ago-and would have been reelected had he not died just before the end of his term.

The international union (dating back to the beginning of the CIO) has made only one attempt to bring together all the rubber worker locals in the city that are involved with this company. This attempt took place last year and failed mostly because of the role played by our former local president. What this unity would have meant is that we would have been in a better position to struggle for parity with the major companies in the industry. This would have cost the company money, so they used their tool, our president, to break up this attempt at unity.

Although the company is forty years old, the international union has made only this one attempt to bring the locals together. The reason is that the union wants the company to grow. This is a common practice of CIO unions, such as the ILGWU and the ACWU in the garment industry. They operate under the assumption that a bigger company means more money for the international. Because of this, unions must justify capitalism to the workers by telling them that working under bad conditions and for low pay helps them in the long run, because it allows the company to compete against foreign imports.

The political effect of the union is damaging in another way. The union acts to take all control out of the hands of the workers themselves and put it into the hands of a third party. This leaves the workers helpless in the context of collective bargaining and in the face of corrupt leadership and other repression by the foreman and the supervisor.


The reverse side of privilege is repression. The use or misuse of overtime has been a key instrument in repression. Job classification and seniority are used as excuses for giving overtime to loyal workers and leaving out workers not in the bosses’ favor. Considering the low pay in the shop, overtime is the only way people with families can live. Any threat to overtime must be taken seriously. Layoffs and firings are the backup threats. Seniority reinforces the fear of being fired. The time involved in getting seniority means a worker cannot risk having to go out and start all over again on a new job. So the senior workers tend to be more cautious. Threats to senior workers are thus uncommon. Since all workers see that any threat against one is dangerous to them all, support for a threatened worker is easy to build.

The Struggles

This was the situation as we found it when the two of us were hired last summer. We could see and feel how bad things were. The heat and smoke, the speed-up, and the general feeling of intimidation were everywhere. The people looked to the upcoming union election to bring about a change.

The union president then was Sal Carbone, the Mafioso type who, with his brothers and their agents, sold hot goods, controlled the numbers, and received higher rates than anyone else. In the beginning of his ten years as president Carbone was implicated in stealing $10,999-12,000 from the union treasury, and thus made some enemies for himself especially the new union treasurer, Tony Franchesco, who found the loss. Carbone has a reliable base among the workers who owe him favors. His election leaflets made the point that he had done many favors such as notarizing bills of sale, regaining a revoked license, and fixing traffic tickets and warrants.

Workers could see no progress as long as the corrupt incumbent ran the local union. We felt getting rid of Carbone would not solve all the problems, but was an unavoidable struggle we could not ignore without being sectarian. To do so would only serve to isolate us from the rest of the workers and would confuse their feelings toward us, or so we felt at the time. Another reason for involvement was that we met a loosely organized group of black men who had someone they felt was a solid alternative. Their alternative was a forty year old back man named Wilson. At the time we viewed Wilson as open-minded and honest, politically progressive and tactically a clear thinker. Only on the last part were we proven correct.

When we met him, he told us about Carbone, and asked little about us. He knew we were radical but didn’t want to know much about that. This changed as we met more often and discussed our backgrounds. Division of the work broke down according to our politics and backgrounds. For example, Carbone tried to rig the election by not allowing our candidate to run. Wilson turned to the international for help, and we put out a leaflet. Both actions complimented each other, but at the same time revealed differences in our approaches.

Our leaflet attacked the old president as undemocratic but, more important, it said the attempted rigging only showed how weak and afraid of the workers he was. It stated that no one was crying about his action but that people were organizing against it. This organization was based on the general dissatisfaction with him.

There were at that time about nine of us loosely organized and more or less committed to the election. The two of us were the first to feel pressure because we had been the ones to put out the leaflet. Carbone used a direct threat of “trouble.” This stopped when our fellow workers said that nothing better happen to us, and when we put in a grievance against intimidation. One guy told all of us not to worry as he had a gang there who would take care of any threateners. Another guy who had been with the Black Panthers in some way before came to us and said he would help in any way he could. He also put on a button we had never seen him wear before. It said, “It is in our blood to fight.”

This leaflet turned around the entire election. The fact that it was passed out inside the shop made people speak openly about the election. It became clear the company couldn’t take open repressive action against us for passing out the leaflet. First of all, the anti-Carbone feeling was very strong and the leaflet served to give it direction behind Wilson and his election committee. Secondly, to attack the committee would put the company dangerously close to Carbone and expose them to legal attacks as well as to spontaneous activity by the workers. Thus, discussion about the union election occurred at the same time as the Vietnam elections.

Many workers made the observation that Carbone was like Thieu, in that neither invited competition and both were corrupt puppets of someone else, Thieu of Washington, and Carbone of the company. People saw that Carbone was resisting a fair election because he could stay in office only by denying the democratic rights of the people.

Racism was an issue in the election. Carbone is white and Wilson is black. Carbone put out a leaflet reducing the issues to race voting, and personal conflict between himself and the local treasurer, Franchesco, who had long before brought up the corruption and theft charges. The black vote was combining as a bloc with the white support of the disgruntled union treasurer to win the election, argued the leaflet. By using this tactic to divide and confuse, Carbone avoided confronting the real issues in the election as raised by Wilson. These-were honest and democratic unionism, better working conditions; and more pay. Most people saw these latter questions which Carbone’s leaflet had tried to obscure, as the important questions of the election.

The election resulted in a tie. Initially there was much disillusionment and confusion. We had felt we would easily win. We had made the mistake of underestimating our foe and not fully mobilizing our own forces. We should have organized rides to the poll, but after discussing the idea we had dropped it because the poll was only open for four hours. Many people in the group became angry at other workers they knew who didn’t come to the poll. We felt our main mistakes were organizational so we put forward the line that we were in good shape and just learned a valuable if costly lesson. We once again declared our strength and said it had taken Carbone ten years to put together his organization and it had taken us only six.

The week between the tie and the runoff was as full of spontaneity as the Cambodia student strike. Everyone was trying to come to grips with what was going on, everyone was involved. People who had held back now came to the front by organizing sides and talking to people. We won the runoff almost two to one.

The majority of our work has revolved around the union. We will continue to do this, as conditions for working in the union are good. At the same time, we have been involved in job actions on the floor. One took place around unsafe conditions in one of our departments. A young Portuguese worker came to one of our collectives in the shop with the idea of shutting the department down unless the company acted to remove some dangerously piled stock. We checked to see how the others on the line felt. All ten workers were willing to do it. This done, the members of the collective went to the shop steward who was very surprised, and these two then went to the boss. The boss had the stock moved immediately. But he also acted to enforce repression throughout the shop. This was done, not by disciplining the workers in that specific department, but by taking away some “privileges” of another small group of workers who go to a local bar at lunch time. They were told that the collective member involved in this incident was the cause of their loss because he was a radical and wanted to play things by the book. The result of this was some sabotage to one of his machines designed to injure him, and some strong words almost resulting in a fight between an old Italian worker and himself.

The other action took place in a department where another member of our collective had just started to work. He was working on the fastest machine in the department. The high speed of this machine caused it to break down often. Because of the way the piece rate is set up a worker will lose money when his machine is broken down. After he had gone through a number of breakdowns due to high speed and poor materials he refused tq run the machine until it was repaired. His boss told him to start up but he refused. Other workers in the department stopped work to see what was going to happen. His boss got the supervisor who told him to start up. He again refused and started yelling at the supervisor about losing money and working too hard. The supervisor began to apologize and finally agreed to bring up mechanics to fix the machine. This was the first time anyone had done such a thing in that department. A number of workers expressed pleasure that something was finally being done to change things in the department.

Up to this point we saw class consciousness as being on the rise. But after the election political advance slowed down and by the time of contract renewal negotiations one week later, we were fairly isolated although still listened to. As the wage-price freeze was in effect, most people were uncertain about what to do. We were among this group. We told people we should only go for a one-year contract to give us time to figure out what to do. This was widely accepted by the workers as a sound strategy. But the international stepped into the picture and negotiated a three-year contract. Our suggestions went for nothing.

This was our appraisal of the union and our reasons for getting involved in the election. The weakness in this analysis comes from 1. our lack of understanding of the relationship of practical work to theoretical work and lack of a clear cut program for uniting the two. 2. lack of experience in shop organizing and analyzing where to work and what work is primary.

We completely misjudged Wilson. We felt he could be won to Communism and that his openness to our ideas was honest and not just a ploy to keep us working to get him-elected. We confused active trade unionists with advanced workers. This is an economist error. Economism is, in its trade union aspect, based on practice in the trade union struggle and not on political, theoretical or ideological development of the workers.

Our inexperience prevented us from knowing what the politics of trade unions are like. We didn’t know that Wilson and Franchesco are part of an old opposition group in the union. The politics of this group is strict trade unionism with close relations to the international. They opposed Carbone’s corrupt policies on that basis and for no more progressive reasons.

Our activity in the election and in the union prevented us from being able to advance political ideas and prevented us from summing up our work to see what we were accomplishing.

We had offered up to this point militant trade unionism as the solution to leadership that would not fight the company. We had failed to advance ideas of communism and socialist revolution on a consistent and systematic basis. As stated earlier, not fully grasping Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, inexperience in shop organizing, and isolation were the main factors that led us in this direction. We had only been involved in the spontaneous struggle of the election. We had felt this involvement was unavoidable. It was unavoidable only because of our inexperience and isolation. It would not have been sectarian or opportunist to have stayed out of it. No one knew us and we knew little about the shop as we had only been three months when all this started up.


What is the driving force behind the awakening of class consciousness in the U.S. as a whole and in the shop in particular? This is the decline of U.S. imperialism. This appears to be an external cause but it is internal to capitalism and therefore affects us. First let’s look at the internal effects.

At the rubber plant there is a decline in the amount of overtime, layoffs in maintenance, and job eliminations. Parts if not all of another local plant are being closed and by July it should be up here. As these conditions get sharper layoffs, job elimination, short weeks, etc. this will bring the questions of preferential overtime, special jobs, special rates out in the open. The workers as a whole don’t get these privileges. The few who do are becoming and will become more isolated. In order to defend themselves against our attacks on their privileges these people will begin to take a more openly pro-company position. As these questions are raised more often and the company counter-attacks with the aid of their agents people will see more and more the need for unity.

The company will be hard at work trying to stem the tide. As the amount of customer orders declines and with it the ability of the company to buy people off likewise declines, they will begin to use their lackeys more openly. At some point these people will return to union meetings. On the shop floor they will act to back up and enforce company harassment. This is like trying to put out an oil fire with water, you only make it spread.

The number will be affected more and more by the lottery. Lotteries are a gimmick to increase the tax base without a direct tax. What happens is the people who make the least (we workers) spend a larger percentage of our income on gambling. In this way, rather than increase the taxes on the companies the state enlarges our burden. The effect on the number is hard for me to predict as I have little experience with it. At a guess, I would say fewer people will play the number as they have less money to gamble with and the potential winnings are greater with the lottery. This will make the political line of the bookie vacillate between the company and the workers. Judging from past revolutions, though, the bookies will eventually link arms with the company against the workers. The best example of this happened in China in 1925. The Shanghai gangsters joined forces with Chiang Kai-shek TO KILL THOUSANDS OF COMMUNISTS AND WORKERS who had just taken over most of the city.

Our role in this situation will be to increase our understanding of what is happening around us and then to explain it to our brother and sister workers. At some future date this explanation and discussion will not be enough. It will become necessary to act on this understanding to change the situation.

What are the seemingly external causes that affect us? First of all as the people of Viet Nam move closer to winning national liberation from the yoke of U.S. imperialism, other people in the world are inspired and forced to wage struggle against their oppressor. This acts to limit the amount of the world open to domination by the imperialist powers.

This limited amount of the world is not neatly divided up. The U.S., the major imperialist power in the world today, must fight, or to use the capitalist term, compete, with the Japanese, German, Soviet, English and French, etc., for a piece of the action in these areas. The forms of domination are control of markets for the sale of finished goods, areas for investment of surplus capital, and exploitation of cheap labor and other natural resources. The situation is’ then that the people of the oppressed areas of the world are fighting to end the exploitation of their country from imperialist domination and the imperialists are fighting the people to maintain their control and fighting each other for a larger and larger piece of the action.

How does this affect us in the U.S.? Simply put, as the amount of the world open to imperialist domination becomes less and the ability of the U.S. to compete with Japan, Germany, etc. diminishes American companies do less business. This happens because we workers fight the capitalists for better working and living conditions, and in general a better way of life. This costs money and the capitalists refuse to pay for anything they can get someone else to pay for. They do this in two ways. The first is imperialism. This way the rest of the world pays for the ruling class domination and a high national standard of living. The second is fascism. This way they make us pay. The beginning of fascism can be seen everywhere. The best example of it, though, is the wage-price freeze.

The wage-price freeze is the ruling class using the repressive force of the state to keep workers in line, keeping wages in line with the owner’s ability to pay despite these wages being inadequate. In this way we, the American working class, pay for the policy of global domination that capitalism itself demands. The owners can give us a pay raise knowing the state will take it away. If we rebel against this, the unions tell us to sit tight, they will get us a fair freeze. When it becomes clear there is no such thing as a fair freeze and we begin to look outside the existing legal framework to find solutions to our problems the police and army will take a more open role in stopping us.

This is a general and in many ways incomplete description of imperialism and fascism. The common denominator in all this is capitalism. The alternative to this is to throw off the rule of the capitalists and control things ourselves. For these reasons we should not fight for or support the imperialists in a war such as Viet Nam. To do that only strengthens the control the capitalists have over us and the rest of the world. We should support the people of Viet Nam and elsewhere in their struggles against imperialism. We should do this and at the same time study their ideas and methods in order to help ourselves in our fight against the common enemy.

Our Role

We must now ask: What has been our role–the role of the left? First of all, we have tried very hard to understand what is going on and what has happened at this shop. Part of the reason for this article was in fact to clarify what has happened to date and figure out what should happen next.

What was our practice? In both the elections and the contract negotiations we basically provided a unifying political line that encouraged workers’ militancy and self-reliance, and sense of being part of something collective. This was not an artificially injected line but came from discussions with workers and served to clarify their own thoughts and give them direction. We have. attempted to understand what the workers feel is needed, and to unify them to attain these goals. Most workers don’t see socialist revolution as a way out of their problems, but are open to discuss it. This understanding and discussion does not take place in the vacuum of our shop alone. We discuss what is the relationship between the shop and Vietnam from a working class point of view. The way this works is by understanding how the system of privileges backed up with the repression of the company acts to disunite the shop. Once this has been discussed, most workers see that it’s true. Then it becomes a matter of drawing parallels from Carbone to Thieu and from the company to the U.S. military.

Our role has mainly been integrating ourselves into the class and understanding in that process the roots of reaction in the class as well as the progressive movement of the majority of workers. Privilege has been the major source of reaction. Some workers say that the number of bought off workers is too small to be as effective as we credit it with. They say ten or twelve privileged characters cannot split up the workers that much. We agree. But the capitalists have the repressive power to back up these people along with the union’s conservative line and grievance procedure. We also point out that if there were ten or twelve people working to unite the shop we would have a lot more unity today. We have found that to become involved in mass organizational work is only worthwhile if we understand how this will help the majority of workers. This we try to do from an understanding of privilege and internal class divisions.

As we have become more deeply integrated, our thinking has changed. This has been principally over the question of organizing versus study. Our attitude toward work itself is that it is hard but that we can do it and so can most people. When we began work at this shop we felt our main task was organizing and our study should be of current events and labor history. We began reading various journals and studying the history of the labor movement. This approach of leaving out basic theory or at best putting it in a very secondary position led us to be spontaneous in our work. It was not until after the contract negotiations that this changed. Up until then we had seen progressive developments of consciousness on the questions of democracy, racism, and mass action. How democracy and racism came up has already been shown. Mass action came up over how to get a better life. The question was do you get a better life relying on a leader who can fix tickets or one who would take a strong trade union stand. One way is individualistic, the other is trade unionist and the beginning of class consciousness.

We see the primary result of our work as being looked to for political leadership, and secondarily easing organizing conditions. Later we realized that we had led the election to victory and socialist organization virtually nowhere. This confusion has turned the original basis of our work into its opposite. In this immediate period, theory comes first and organization second. While we continue to integrate into the working class, this change in priority of study and organizing, has led us away from spontaneous action and tailism to what we are doing now, making a class analysis and discussing it in order to find ways to act on it. This discussion takes place on the shop floor and in our collective.


This article, in a less finished form, has existed now for three months. In that form it was distributed to a number of workers in the shop. The reason for passing it out was to begin making up for not raising Communist ideas with workers whom we felt were advanced, due to our involvement in the union. After making a right error of not bringing these ideas up consistently, we made the left error of spontaneously passing this out to people without really knowing where some of these people were at. This led to the article being leaked to the right wing and the company. We once again failed to fully analyze the situation before we acted.

Two things resulted from the article being circulated. First was the formation of a union caucus to oppose the already obvious do-nothing policies of the international, as represented by Wilson. The weakness of this group was two-fold. 1. No understanding of the inherent contradictions in trade unionism that no degree of honesty or democracy can resolve. 2. A very small conscious element that was unable to exert itself in any real way. We saw clearly that in order for this sort of thing to be worthwhile, we must spend our time developing conscious workers and refraining from mass work where possible until then.

The second thing which happened has been mentioned previously. That is, the attack by the right wing led by the Carbones and their agents. This attack showed clearly that without an organization in a shop based on revolutionary ideology (Marxism-Leninism–Mao Tsetung Thought) and therefore able to act in a principled and disciplined way, Communists can be easily isolated and put in needlessly dangerous situations. The union caucus could only help on a friendship or personal favor basis.

Due to these two things happening (i.e. clearly drawing a line between right and left in the shop and formation of the type of organization that our trade union line called for) we feel we have brought this line to its conclusion. And it shows itself to be a bad line. It is economist in that it separates communists from workers and workers from communist ideology.

The line we are putting into practice now is the party-building line. So far this work has been slow and awkward. The reception by the small number of workers has been good but not overwhelming. We have no newspaper to clarify our position so what we have done is to bring in “The Vanguard Party” paper by the G.C.L. and “Quotations by Mao Tse-Tung.” This being done to lay a basis for discussion and not to immediately put together an organization. The reason for this is mainly due to internal contradictions in our study group that has stopped expansion and limits discussion of organizing problems. We feel once the group consolidates we will be in a better position to systematically bring people in and possible either begin relating to an already existing paper or starting our own.

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George & Jeff Paul are pseudonyms for two Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and are doing political work in New England factories.