First Published: Unite!, Vol. 3, No. 2, March 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In building the revolutionary vanguard communist party in the United States, the key link in completing this task today, is the development of a Marxist-Leninist draft party program. This is because all other ideological, political and organizational tasks will be moved forward by taking the draft party program to the workers for struggle and development.
THE HISTORY OF THE SOVIET UNION (BOLSHEVIKS) states that:
The program of a workers' party, as we know it, is a brief, scientifically formulated statement of the aims and object of the struggle of the working class. The program defines both the ultimate goal of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, and the demands for which the party fights while on the way to the achievement of the ultimate goal. HCPSU(B) 1939, p.38.
The program is based on the task of the emancipation of labor from the oppression of capital, the transfer of all means of production to social ownership and the seizure of state power by the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat. This means that the essence of the party program is to organize the class struggle of the proletariat and to lead this struggle.
By formulating the aims and objectives of the working class and drawing lines of demarcation with alien tendencies, the program establishes the real unity of the vanguard detachment and provides the basis for all-round day-to-day agitation and propaganda.
In order to develop the politic and tactical foundations of the party, we must apply Marxism-Leninism the concrete conditions. This is t fusion of theory and practice. The program is a practical weapon in the hands of the working class.
The party program is essential for the consolidation and consistent, activity of a proletarian party. With the grasping of Marxism-Leninism as our guide to action, the only way in which “local work” can be raised to a higher level, will be through organization and unity. This organization and unity will only be welded on the basis of common practice developed from a common party program.
This program must formulate our basic views; precisely establish our immediate political tasks; point out the immediate demands; show the area of agitational activity; give unity to the agitational work, expand and deepen it, raising it from fragmentary, partial agitation for petty, isolated demands to the status of agitation for the sum-total of communist demands, in “this way, the program will strengthen the connections between class-conscious workers and revolutionary intellectuals, and extend their activity, and will dispel misconceptions about communism, and the aims of communists.
Not all parties have been formed on the basis of a draft party program. But in the United States, with over thirty years of modern revisionism to repudiate, with the variety of communist forces” and the protracted nature of the struggle to forge the party, a draft party program is an indispensable weapon for drawing genuine lines of demarcation and actively mobilizing the advanced detachment of the working class for the first party congress.
To grasp the importance of the party program is not a matter of a “minor modification” of a plan as the October League advanced; by first calling for the formation of the party without a party program or congress and then calling for both and suggesting that this represented a “minor modification” of their views. The party program must actively be taken to the working class. This would be the main task of a genuine organizing committee, unlike that of the October League, who has consistently refused to bring the questions of the party program to the workers to discuss.
The party program should begin with a definite indictment of capitalism, with a practical disclosure of the contradictions of capitalism, its development and consequences for the conditions and alignment of social forces. This should be clear and concise and remind the working class of their own experience.
The program should bring into the foreground and emphasis the process of development of the objective conditions. It is the task of the party to consciously lead the spontaneous working class movement which emerges as a result of the objective conditions. The party program is essential in carrying forward the task of fusing scientific socialism with the spontaneous working class movement. As Enver Hoxha has said, “socialism is built by the masses, the party makes them conscious.”
A draft outline of the content of the program would include:
The main thrust of this section is to establish this as the revolutionary program of the proletariat.
A. Development of capitalism in the U.S.–the objective conditions of the proletariat contrasted with the bourgeoisie.
1. Imperialism–the second stage of the General Crisis–U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism– the development of class contradictions in the world and imperialist war preparations.
2. Conditions of the working class in the U.S.–national oppression– struggle against the bourgeoisie spontaneously and the reaction from the ruling class.
B. Development of class contradictions leads to proletarian revolution.
1. Growth of the working class movement spontaneously.
2. Working class struggle for emancipation means the smashing of bourgeois rule (the nature of the state) and the establishment of socialism as the only true way, through proletarian revolution, for the material well being of the vast majority of society to be ensured.
3. Socialist revolution will eventually accomplish the elimination of classes, class divisions and class contradictions, and the elimination of social and political inequality.
4. The establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary political condition for the transition from capitalism to communism, with the real nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat spelled out.
5. Role and tasks of communists to expose the irreconcilability of the class interests of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; to explain the historical role and significance of the proletariat as a class, its world historic mission, the nature of proletarian revolution, and the necessity for a vanguard communist party.
6. Interests of the world proletariat guide the class struggle in the U.S., that the proletarian revolution is fought for in the interests of the exploited and oppressed masses of all the world, in the name of proletarian internationalism.
This is the practical part of the program which sets forth the entire set of basic demands that have significance for the entire working class.
A. Concrete programmatic demands of the working class movement.
1. Struggle for the democratic rights which protect the working class and raises its fighting capacity.
2. From this, various particular demands laid out: right to assembly; freedom of the press; unionization; education; right to strike; full equality without regard to sex, nationality, religion, or race; medical care; childcare; pensions; arming of the people; material well-being; etc.
3. Establishment of the material and political prerequisites for full participation of women in social production.
B. National Question
1. The proletariat struggles for the self-determination of the proletariat in each nationality, and works for the closest unity of the proletariat of all nationalities.
2. We uphold the right of self-determination of all nations.
3. Support for the national liberation movements throughout the world which objectively oppose imperialism.
4. Recognition of the existence and rights of the Black Nation in the black belt South.
5. Call for the independence of Puerto Rico.
6. The Chicano National Question.
7. Other possible national questions i.e., Native American, Hawaii, Guam, Micronesia, etc.
8. Relationship of democratic struggles of national minorities to working class struggle spelled out.
9. Development of an agrarian reform position for the elimination of feudal remnants.
The program should not lump together fundamental principles of scientific socialism with narrow, concrete demands of the particular time and place, (May Day, Boston Busing, etc.) nor should it be the place for polemics, or definitions of intended tactics.
It should be short, concise and not degenerate into a commentary on the program itself. Commentaries, whether of a propaganda or agitational form, should supplement the program in the practice of winning the masses to the acceptance of the fact that the party and the party program speak to their real needs and interests. A long, windy, party program, such, as that of the Revolutionary “Communist” Party, is of little or no use as a weapon for the working class or to engage the party in the practical struggle of the masses.
The RCP program, which includes an extended theoretical discussion of various aspects of capitalism, from the theory of surplus value to a description of life under socialism, is not a scientific party program. It is not a document which correctly sums up the experience of the working class or its aims, nor is it an indictment of capitalism and an appeal to workers about this situation. Instead it is nothing but a vague treatise on the existing world and a list of desires, which leaves the demands of the working class and their ultimate goal buried in a mess of theoretical errors, and distortions of reality.
Lenin constantly emphasized the agitational content and use of the party program; it must be concise, brief, clear and aimed at all militant workers. The language must be popular and lend itself to the generation of slogans for use in the day-to-day struggle. It should remind workers of their own experience, by pointing to the general contradictions in capitalist society, and raising demands which speak to the real needs of the workers and oppressed nationalities. It should not describe that experience but sum-up its significance. The program should be taken to the working class in the way that Lenin took it in TO THE RURAL POOR, LCW, Vol.6., which is a sentence by sentence explanation, in a popular style. We recommend that this work be studied along with the program of the Russian Social Democratic Party.
The program is a guide to action by defining the focus of the direction in which the working class must be educated, organized and mobilized by its own experience to overthrow the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and establish socialism.
The program, its goals, aims, and demands, is the correct basis for strategy. In this way it will be the main tool for the fusion of scientific socialism with the working class movement by leading the day to day struggle of the working class against the capitalist class and toward our ultimate goal. The party program is a weapon of class struggle in the hands of the working class, transforming their consciousness into a material force for the seizure of state power.