Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Central Committee Revolutionary Communist Party

The Working Class Movement and the Tasks of the Party

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The formation of the Party of the working class in this country, its Revolutionary Communist Party, is the product of the struggle of the working class itself and is a great victory for the working class. Is this just a slogan or merely rhetoric? No, it is not.

When the Communist Party (CP) in this country went revisionist, betrayed the working class, gave up the goal of revolution and became an agent of capitalism, this left the working class in this country without a vanguard in the fight against capitalism. But even without a vanguard, the working class continued to wage sharp and broad struggle, in many forms, against the exploitation and oppression of the capitalist system. At the same time mass movements erupted among the oppressed nationalities, youth and students, women and other sections of the American people against the outrages and abuses they suffer. So long as there are classes there will be class struggle, and where there is oppression there will be resistance–this is a law independent of anyone’s will, a law proven every day in this and every country.

It was out of these struggles, including the struggle of the working class itself, that the forces that have formed the Revolutionary Communist Party developed. It was in the course of struggle that, in order to discover the cause of the evils they were fighting against and the means to end them, and in order to deepen, broaden and advance this fight, these forces took up the revolutionary science of the working class, Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought.

But what convinced them of the correctness of this science and the need to base themselves on applying it to the concrete conditions in the U.S.? It was exactly the fact that the working class–not only historically, and not just in other countries, but in the U.S. today as well as in the past–had demonstrated through its daily battles against capitalism the characteristics that mark it as the most powerful class in history and the only truly revolutionary class in modern society.

The day to day struggles of the working class indicate the revolutionary potential of the working class. The science of the working class, based on summing up its struggle and the struggle of oppressed classes through out history, makes it possible to fully recognize this revolutionary potential and to determine the line and policies that will lead the working class in developing its movement of today into a revolutionary workers’ movement.

Basis Laid

It was exactly by applying this science to the actual struggle in this country, by merging communist theory with the practical struggle of the working class and building communist organization with real roots in the working class in the course of battle, that the basis for forming the Party of the working class was laid. It was this that made possible the development of the overall battle plan for the working class–the Programme of its Party–and the solidifying of its general staff–the Party as its organized advanced detachment to lead it as a unified force in waging the overall battle. And it was this that made it possible for the communist forces to correctly wage ideological struggle, in a living way, linking theory with practice, to strengthen their own working class orientation and defeat opportunist lines that put forward the interests and outlook of the bourgeoisie in the name of the working class.

Such ideological struggle was crucial in laying the foundation for the Party, and it will continue to be a key responsibility of the Party, to wage struggle against bourgeois ideology and those who champion it–though the forms and targets of this struggle will differ under different conditions. This ideological struggle is not simply a battle over ideas–it is the reflection in the theoretical sphere of the struggle between the working class and the capitalist class in the material world. And, once again, in the past period, in building the foundation for the Party of the working class, it was the living, material struggle of the working class itself, of millions of workers waging militant battles against the capitalists, that provided the basis for communists to grasp the correct line and expose opportunism more thoroughly, to take the road forward and sweep away obstacles to forming this Party.

All this shows clearly that the forming of the Revolutionary Communist Party is the product of the struggle of the working class itself and represents a great victory for the working class. And all this shows clearly that the Party is not an end in itself, but an instrument of the working class in carrying forward its struggle to complete victory–to the overthrow and final elimination of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, and the achievement of communism.

With the formation of the Revolutionary Communist Party, the struggle of the working class in this country has advanced to a new stage, where the working class has its own general staff capable of leading it according to an understanding of the nature of the class war against the ruling class and in accordance with an overall battle plan. And this struggle is growing more and more intense in the practical, and also the ideological and theoretical, sphere as the bourgeoisie and its agents–open and disguised–mount increasing attacks on the working class and growing numbers of workers go into action and take matters into their own hands to fight back.

As the Programme of the Party states, “The situation for the working class is growing more and more favorable, as it grows more and more desperate for the imperialists. Nothing they can do can reverse the process of history, and the more destruction they bring down to save themselves, the closer it brings their doom.” This, too, is not mere rhetoric, but summarizes the actual situation, points to its future development and expresses a profound truth.

Crisis Grows Deeper

The capitalist system, in this country and internationally, is sinking into deeper crisis. The answer of the capitalists is to increase their drive to squeeze even more blood from the workers to prop up the capitalists’ profits and keep their profit-seeking system going. At the same time the capitalists, both within this country and internationally, who continually battle each other for the spoils from exploiting the working people, are stepping up this battle as the crisis deepens. At the heart of this is the rivalry between the imperialist rulers of this country and their counterparts in the Soviet Union who have restored capitalism there. The contention between these two superpowers for world domination is intensifying and this is pushing the world toward a third world war.

All this means great difficulties for the working class, and great dangers, including the growing danger of world war. But it also provides great opportunities for the working class, because such a crisis weakens and exposes the bourgeoisie, reveals the criminal absurdity of the whole capitalist system and makes it more possible for the working class to strike telling blows against the ruling class and bring closer the day when it can overthrow it, and wipe out the evils and sufferings caused by capitalism.

This is so with regard to war as well, including world war. As the Party’s Programme states, ”Either the working class in the U.S. and the Soviet Union will prevent such a {world] war by overthrowing these greatest oppressors [the imperialist rulers of the U.S. and Soviet Union], in conjunction with the world-wide struggle against them, or they will launch a world war before they can be overthrown. But even if they launch such a war, with all the suffering it will bring to the people throughout the world, this will only hasten their downfall and the end of imperialism... fn launching a third world war, the imperialists, especially the rulers of the U.S. and USSR, would further expose their barbarous nature, deepen the determination of the people of the world to bury them once and for alt, and give rise to a revolutionary storm shaking the world as never before.”

Stand of the Class

The stand of the working class and the line of the Party is to hold the imperialists accountable for every drop of blood shed by the masses of people in war. As an important part of its overall struggle the working class must build the fight against acts of aggression and war preparations by the imperialists. But beyond that, it must prepare to carry its struggle through and organize to put an end to war forever by putting an end to its cause, the bourgeoisie and the imperialist system.

As the Programme of the Party puts forward, ’The central task of the Revolutionary Communist Party today, as the Party of the U.S. working class, is to build the struggle, class consciousness and revolutionary unity of the working class and develop its leadership of a broad united front against the U.S. imperialists, in the context of the world-wide united front against imperialism aimed at the rulers of the two superpowers. As this is developed, together with the development of a revolutionary situation, the question of mobilizing the masses for the armed insurrection will come to the fore as the immediate question.”

How does the Party carry out its central task today? The present struggles of the working class in this country are centered around wages and benefits, working conditions, against speed-up, layoffs, compulsory overtime and other attempts by the capitalists to increase the exploitation of the workers. The Party’s Programme stresses that, while such battles are not the whole war against the ruling class, they are an extremely important “school of warfare,” through which the workers can build their strength, unity and organization and begin to develop a basic understanding of the nature of the enemy and the struggle against this enemy.

It is in these struggles that the work of the Party must now be concentrated. The Party must not only “take part” in these struggles, but must take the responsibility for leading them, for uniting in these struggles and mobilizing as a mighty force the millions of workers of this country.

To carry out this responsibility the Party must, as its Programme states, “bend every effort to fulfill three main objectives: to win as much as can be won in the immediate battle and weaken the enemy; to raise the general level of consciousness and sense of organization of the struggling masses and instill in them the revolutionary outlook of the proletariat; and to develop the most active and advanced in these struggles into communists, recruit them into the Party and train them as revolutionary leaders.”

Promoting the Struggle

In all this the Party’s guideline must be the principle set down by Lenin in leading the struggle of the working class in Russia over 75 years ago: “The Party’s activity must consist in promoting the working class struggle. The Party’s task is not to concoct some fashionable means of helping the workers, but to join up with the workers’ movement, to bring light into it, to assist the workers in the struggle they themselves have already begun to wage.” It is in this way that the Party will play its leading role in building the movement of the working class in its millions and broadening it into an all-round struggle against the imperialist system, for the emancipation of the working class. It is in this way that the Party will deepen and strengthen its ties with the working class as a whole and assist the masses of workers in carrying forward these day to day battles and in drawing the links, in their understanding and their active struggle, between these and other battles against the ruling class. It is through this process that the Party will assist the masses of workers in grasping the class relations that underlie exploitation and all oppression and grasping the general and long-term interests of the working class in overthrowing capitalism and ending class society.

At the same time as it concentrates its work in the main struggles of the working class itself, the Party must also work among all strata and in all social movements fighting against the ruling class, unite with them in this fight, bring forward the revolutionary outlook and interests of the working class and build the broadest united front against the imperialist ruling class, under the leadership of the working class. At the core of this united front the Party must work to link the movements of the oppressed nationalities for equality and emancipation with the revolutionary struggle of the working class as a whole.

At each point in the struggle the Party must sum up the key developments and determine the key battle-fronts in the overall fight against the imperialist system. Today, these main battlefronts, around which the Party must build the struggle are: wage cuts, speed-up, harassment, compulsory overtime and similar attacks aimed at increasing the exploitation of the workers; unemployment; discrimination in work and throughout society; police repression and terror; war–opposition to U.S. aggression and superpower contention to carve up and dominate other countries; deportations; defend the right to strike; and cutbacks in social services.

At the present time many workers are actively involved in these battles, but generally not in an organized, class conscious way. The task of the Party is to unite ever broader numbers of workers to take up these fights as a part of the struggle of the working class, as a class for itself, against capitalism; and, as the Party’s Programme states, to enable the working class to ”infuse its strength, discipline and revolutionary outlook into every major social movement” in order to unite all who can be united in a powerful alliance against imperialism and lead them in overthrowing it.

But, while each of these struggles are important battlefronts not all of them have equal weight at any time. As already stressed, the “center of gravity” of the working class struggle and the work of the Party today is concentrated in the day to day struggle of the workers a-round wages, working conditions, layoffs, jobs, etc. It is mainly by building this struggle and bringing light into it–as summarized earlier– that the Party will be able to mobilize and unite masses of workers, link up struggles and make the greatest strides in broadening the workers’ movement into the all-around fight against the imperialist system, uniting and leading all those who are oppressed under it.

The Long-Range Goal

Through all this the Party must keep firmly in mind the long-range goal of the working class struggle. It must learn from the experience of the CP, which led many large-scale struggles of the workers but increasingly lost sight of the revolutionary goal of the working class movement and finally degenerated into an agent of capitalism.

The formation of the Revolutionary Communist Party marks the second time the Party of the working class has been formed in this country (the CP was founded in 1919). And this will be the last time!

The Revolutionary Communist Party must not and will not go revisionist. It will not betray the working class, as the CP has, but will use the CP’s degeneration as a teacher by negative example to arm the Party and the working class as a whole to fight the bourgeoisie and the corrupting influence of its ideology.

The bourgeoisie in this country points to the CP as “proof” that the working class cannot forge and wield as a weapon in its struggle a leadership that will remain loyal to it. The bourgeoisie trumpets that there is no Party that will carry through the fight, together with the masses of workers, for the revolutionary interests of the working class. But the experience of China and other countries, where the Party of the working class has led it in overthrowing capitalism and defeating attempts at capitalist restoration, puts the lie to this bourgeois trash.

And now, in this country, there is such a Party!–the Revolutionary Communist Party. Learning from the whole history of the struggle of the international working class and its revolutionary science, the Revolutionary Communist Party is determined to stand forever with the working class, to continually deepen its ties with the masses of workers, link itself ever more firmly with the struggles of the working class and lead it in advancing, through all the twists and turns, in the face of whatever difficulties and hardships, to carry out the overthrow and destruction of capitalism and the bourgeoisie and reach the great goal of communism, together with the whole international proletariat.