Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA



In their everyday life workers pour their sweat into production and, in capitalist society, experience the life-killing exploitation on which the system is built. They take part in struggles, together with fellow workers and others, against the abuses and outrages of the capitalist system. Each worker perceives a part of the reality of capitalism, but none by himself can grasp the overall picture, fully discover the source of his oppression or grasp the laws of nature and society that determine the development of the class struggle.

In order to become conscious of itself as a class, and to know and change the world in accordance with its revolutionary interests, the working class must have the leadership of its own political Party, a Party that takes part in and leads the battles of the working class and its allies against the capitalist rulers and consistently points the way forward toward the goal of overthrowing the rule of capital, building socialism and advancing to communism. In every country where the working class has seized and held power and continued on the socialist road, it has had the leadership of such a Party.

The working class in each country needs only one Party. The capitalists usually have more than one party, because of their need to compete with each other and to deceive the masses of people. Different blocs and sectors of capital seek to advance their interests by competing both through and within these parties. Each party tries to cover up the capitalist dictatorship with talk about “democracy for all the people.”

The working class has no interest in competition in its ranks–it is the rule of capital that forces the workers to compete for jobs and for survival. The working class has no need for masks–it openly proclaims its intention to overthrow and dictate to the exploiting minority.

The working class needs a single Party to unite it as a mighty fist, to build its understanding of the historical mission of ending all class society. The working class needs a Party to draw up a battle plan and lead the overall battle against the enemy. One Party, representing the interests of one class, and through these interests, the great majority of humanity.

The Revolutionary Communist Party is the Party of the working class in the U.S. It is a part of the working class, the advanced detachment of the working class, its vanguard in the struggle against the bourgeoisie. It has no interests apart from the interests of the working class. It is part of the life and struggles of the masses of people, and constantly works to deepen its ties with the class as a whole, for the separation of the Party from the class robs the Party of its life blood, its very reason for existence. But at the same time the Party brings to the class an understanding of the laws of struggle and enables it to consciously change the world and make revolution.


The Revolutionary Communist Party bases itself on Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought. In the middle of the 19th century Karl Marx founded the science of revolution. Analyzing the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie that was intensifying with the development of capitalism in a number of countries, Marx brought to light the basic contradiction of capitalist society and showed how this contradiction could only be resolved through proletarian revolution to overthrow and eliminate the capitalist class, and with it, all class society.

From this revolutionary standpoint of the working class, Marx, together with his collaborator, Frederick Engels, showed that the history of all human society was the history of class struggle. Marxism, as it came to be called, removed for the first time the fog of mystery that had surrounded the relations between man and nature and between man and man.

Marxism shows that all societies are basically an organized way that the people carry out the production and distribution of the material requirements of life. And that the political system, the culture and other aspects of society are a superstructure that arises on the basis of the relations of production–the economic relations in society–and in turn serves to preserve those relations of production. Marxism analyzes how, after a certain point in the development of the productive forces, the old relations of production, and the superstructure that serves them, become a brake on production itself and have to be overthrown.

The revolutionary class throughout history, Marxism shows, was the class which at the time represented the more advanced relations of production, the higher form of organizing production to correspond with the development of the productive forces. And Marx scientifically explained how the exploitation of the working class to create surplus value is the foundation of the capitalist system. It was on this basis that Marx showed that the working class was bound to overthrow the capitalist class, socialize the ownership of the means of production and remove all social chains on the development of the productive forces, by advancing to classless society, communism. And Marx showed that a forcible revolution by the proletariat and its forcible suppression of the overthrown bourgeoisie were necessary to carry out its revolutionary role.

It was not because of “personal genius” or because “he was one of those great men who come along every few hundred years” that Marx was able to found the science of revolution. It was because capitalism, with its high level of science and technology and its constant replacement of scattered with more concentrated production, had developed, and along with it the modern proletariat, representing highly socialized production. And it was because Marx actively took part in the struggle of the proletariat. In the past the basic laws of nature and society were hidden from man, but now it became possible for the first time to bring them to light. This Marx did and in so doing created a great weapon for the working class.

But Marxism is a living science and must continue to develop with the development of society itself. Marx lived in the era before capitalism had developed into imperialism. V.I. Lenin analyzed this process and demonstrated that imperialism was the highest and final stage of capitalism, giving birth to revolution even as it died. The rule of capital could be first overthrown, Lenin showed, not necessarily where capitalism was most developed, but where the link in the world imperialist chain was weakest. While before it was believed that socialism could only succeed if it was established in several countries at once, Lenin now showed that it was possible to build socialism in one country, even a relatively undeveloped country. And together with the Bolshevik Party he headed, Lenin led the workers of Russia, in alliance with the masses of peasants, in making socialist revolution.

Lenin formulated the principles for the Party of the proletariat as a disciplined, iron-like vanguard, embodying the unity of will and unity of action necessary to lead the proletariat in actually making revolution. Lenin thus forged a new weapon for the working class, and through all these contributions developed Marxism to a new stage. As Joseph Stalin, who followed Lenin in leading the Soviet socialist revolution, summed up, “Leninism is Marxism in the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution.” Therefore the science of revolution now bears the name of Lenin as well as Marx–Marxism has become Marxism-Leninism.

Since Lenin’s death in 1924, although there have been great changes in the world the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution has not changed. But as society and the revolutionary struggle for socialism have changed and advanced, Marxism-Leninism has also been advanced.

Mao Tsetung, in leading the Chinese revolution for many decades, has enriched Marxism-Leninism in many areas–in its application to warfare, culture, revolution in colonial countries, in philosophy and in other fields. Most importantly, in leading the Chinese proletariat’s struggle to prevent the restoration of capitalism, Mao Tsetung has developed the theory of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, showing how the working class must continue to transform society in order to carry through the full transition to communism. Mao Tsetung’s application of Marxism-Leninism to the revolutionary struggle in China and his development of it on that basis has come to be called Mao Tsetung Thought. This is not a new stage of Marxism in the same way that Leninism was, because Mao Tsetung’s contributions, while many, and great, do not and cannot represent an analysis of a new era in the world.

Nevertheless, Mao Tsetung Thought has come to stand for both the defense of Marxism-Leninism against its modern-day enemies and a further development of it. Marxism, from the very beginning, has had to fight every inch of the way against the “theories” of the bourgeoisie, both open and disguised. This struggle is the reflection in the field of philosophy of the material struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and in turn greatly influences that struggle. Therefore it is bound to be very intense.

After the death of Marx and Engels bourgeois agents came forward to distort Marxism in the name of Marxism and revise the revolutionary heart out of it, in an attempt to reconcile the working class to capitalist rule. Lenin, in defending and developing Marxism, had to wage a tireless struggle against these revisionists, as they came to be known. He ripped the veil from their “theories” and exposed their bourgeois stand, and in so doing illuminated the path of struggle for the proletariat more clearly.

So, too, after the death of Lenin and his successor, Stalin, modern-day revisionists, led by the traitors in the Soviet Union itself who have restored capitalism there, came forward to distort Marxism-Leninism and attempt to rob the proletariat of its revolutionary science. Mao Tsetung has led the way in exposing these renegades and in so doing has further sharpened the science of revolution as a weapon of the working class. Mao Tsetung today represents the struggle of Marxism-Leninism vs. revisionism, of the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie. For this reason, the Revolutionary Communist Party proudly raises the banner of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, and bases itself on the application of it to the revolutionary struggle in the U.S.

One of the most basic principles of this revolutionary science is that the masses are the makers of history and that correct ideas arise from and in turn serve the struggle of the masses of people. The masses, in their millions, in their daily experiences in class struggle, in production and in scientific experimentation of all kinds, amass great but scattered and unsystematic knowledge. Understanding this, the Party of the working class, in leading the class, applies the mass line. It takes these scattered and partial experiences and ideas, and by applying the science of revolution, sums them up, concentrates what is correct, what corresponds to the development of society and will move the class struggle ahead. The Party returns these concentrated ideas to the masses in the form of line and policies, which it perseveres in carrying out and propagating in linking itself with and leading the struggle of the masses, and these concentrated ideas become a tremendous material force as the masses take them up as their own and use them to transform the world through class struggle.

It is in this way that the Party develops and applies its ideological and political line–its basic philosophy, its analysis of the objective reality facing the working class and its programme for mobilizing the masses to change reality in a revolutionary way. The question of ideological and political line, its conformity with the revolutionary interests and outlook that characterize the proletariat as a class–this is the decisive question for the Party in playing its vanguard role. The Party must wage consistent struggle within its own ranks to determine and develop the correct line, and to defeat incorrect lines and the influence of the bourgeoisie within the Party itself.

The Party of the working class is based on the principles of organization that enable it to most correctly concentrate the experiences and ideas of the masses, to formulate in this way the strategy and tactics to advance the struggle of the working class and its allies, and to carry out these policies with an unbreakable unity. These principles, democratic centralism, combine centralized leadership and the greatest degree of discipline with the fullest discussion and struggle over policy within the organization and the selection and supervision of Party leaders by the Party membership. They make possible the unity of will and unity of action of the Party. The Party reflects and concentrates the organization and discipline of the working class itself, and steels it with an iron will in the struggle against capitalism.

The Party actively seeks out the criticism of the masses, to whom its every action must be accountable. The Party must be bold in criticizing its own mistakes and thorough in correcting them. This is a key part of learning from the masses and educating both the masses and Party members.

The Party of the working class draws its members from the most dedicated, self-sacrificing, far-seeing fighters of all classes and groups in society–but it builds its main base in the most socialized sections of the working class, and it represents only the stand and viewpoint of the working class. Party members, from all classes, but especially those from outside the working class, must transform themselves in the course of class struggle, discarding ideas and practices which are alien to the working class and taking up wholeheartedly the revolutionary outlook of the working class.

The Party is made up of people who dedicate their entire life to building the revolutionary struggle. Party members put the interests of the revolution, of the working class, above everything else.

The Party continually trains and recruits to its ranks those who come to the fore as leaders of mass struggle, especially in the working class. The Party makes fighters from the class fighters for the class. As broader and broader sections of the working class become class conscious and join the ranks of the Party, it is more and more able to fulfill its role as the vanguard of the proletariat and to apply the mass line more thoroughly.

The Party of the working class is the Party of revolution. It is the instrument through which the working class wields its weapons of class struggle. It forges and leads a powerful united front of all oppressed classes and people, defeating all attempts at compromise with the enemy, and constantly directing the struggle forward to the overthrow and the eventual elimination of the bourgeoisie.

One important way in which the Party fulfills this role is through its leadership in the sphere of propaganda and culture–a very sharp arena of class struggle. In a thousand and one ways the propaganda and culture of the bourgeoisie try to blame the people, especially the working class, for their own suffering–“people pollute,” “too many people in the world is the problem,” “people get the government they deserve,” “wage increases cause inflation”–and on and on. Agents and mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie spew out its chauvinist garbage–against women, oppressed nationalities, and others.

As a crucial part of the struggle against the bourgeoisie, the Party must lead the working class in giving full flower to proletarian propaganda and culture, while exposing and ripping out the; poisonous weeds of the bourgeoisie. This is an immediate task and cannot be put off until socialism.

Works of literature, music, film, and other forms of art that represent the proletariat arise from and in turn serve the struggle of the masses of people, reflect their great power in opposition to the decay of the imperialists and radiate the confidence and militancy of the proletariat as the class of the future. In their daily struggles the masses of people create the embryonic forms of this culture and it is the task of the Party and its cultural workers to encourage and guide their growth and multiply them among the masses. At the same time the Party must build support for those among the “professional” artists of all kinds who side with the struggles of the people, and it must work to win them to the stand of the working class.

In carrying out its propaganda work, and in leading the struggle of the working class in general, one of the Party’s main tools is its press–regular newspapers and theoretical journals–as well as pamphlets, leaflets and other means through which it puts forward the stand of the working class on key questions and struggles and rips the veil from the deception and decadence of the bourgeoisie. These play a very important role in mobilizing the masses in struggle, bringing to the fore the interests and outlook of the proletariat through the course of the struggle, and preparing the conditions for the mass onslaught against capitalist rule.

When the conditions are ripe, the Party organizes and directs the armed forces of the working class, in smashing the bourgeois state and suppressing the bourgeoisie. The Party leads the working class in exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat and in advancing to communism. Only when the goal of communism has been attained will the Party itself cease to exist, because then classes and class struggle will have been eliminated and all of society will consciously apply the principles of communism.


As the Party of the U.S. working class, the Revolutionary Communist Party is fundamentally opposed to the so-called Communist Party, USA (CPUSA, or CP). These imposters have no more right to the name “Communist” than do their models, the revisionist traitors in the Soviet Union who have restored capitalism there. They do everything in their power to hold back and misdirect the struggle of the proletariat. They hold up “liberal” trade union bureaucrats as great leaders of the working class. They urge fighters for Black liberation to make their final goal “assimilation” into the dying capitalist system, instead of uniting with the working class struggle for socialist revolution. They deny the essence of class struggle and the need for the proletariat to overthrow, suppress and eventually eliminate the bourgeoisie, saying “all the people” must unite to “break up the monopolies.” They push the one or other group of bourgeois politicians, saying there is no choice but “the lesser of two evils.” They can’t stand even the thought of armed proletarian revolution.

The Communist Party, USA revisionists are not dangerous just because they claim to represent the interests of the working class while actually serving the bourgeoisie–there will be many individuals, groups and “parties” doing this. They are dangerous because they wrap themselves in the cloak of history–for the CPUSA was once the fighting vanguard of the American proletariat. During the period from its founding in 1919, to the mid-1950s, the CPUSA led the greatest struggles of the working class and many of the other important battles against the bourgeoisie.

The history of the CPUSA contains invaluable lessons for the revolutionary struggle of today, both the positive lessons of the leadership given by the Communist Party to the mass struggle, and the negative lessons of the CP’s errors which made possible its transformation into a counterrevolutionary organization.

When the CP kept its revolutionary aims in mind and put the interests of the working class foremost, it truly led the working class forward. At the beginning of the Great Depression, the CP was alone in demanding unemployment insurance; politicians, phoney “socialists” and trade union hacks denounced it as an “un-American” idea. But millions of workers answered the Communist Party’s call, “Fight, Don’t Starve,” joined the Unemployed Councils and won unemployment compensation.

Fifteen years of CP leadership in the battle for industrial unions paid off in the giant CIO drives, for which it provided many of the organizers.

The CP fought lynch-terror in the South and for equality for Black people everywhere. It did this not to “give the downtrodden and backward a hand,” but to build powerful struggle against the bourgeoisie, and unite the Black people’s struggle with the workers’ struggle.

The CP upheld proletarian internationalism. It supported the Soviet Union and fought to force U.S. recognition of it, while popularizing the great achievements of the Soviet people in building socialism. It gave aid to revolutionary struggle around the world, even sending a battalion to fight the reactionaries under Franco in Spain. In the early 1950s when it was under intense attack from the U.S. government and McCarthyism, the CP undertook the fight against the U.S. invasion of Korea. Although the bourgeoisie redoubled its anti-communist offensive, crippling the CP, the CP helped mobilize millions of workers to reject appeals to patriotism and fight against the capitalists, weakening the imperialist war effort and aiding the Korean people.

The decay of a fighting Party such as this must be studied to learn the causes, so they can be avoided. Failure to apply Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions in the U.S., to apply the mass line to raise the revolutionary consciousness of the masses in the course of struggle, and to really rely on the working class as the revolutionary class–his is the basis of the CP’s degeneration.

Building the revolutionary movement of the working class is a long and complex process full of twists and turns. At each stage the proletariat and its Party is confronted with decisive questions that determine the direction of the struggle. In any given situation there are always lines or programs that are more correct, that more fully represent the interests of the working class. And there are always opinions and programs that are incorrect, that won’t advance the cause of the working class.

But beyond that, the Party exists within class society, and the ideas and outlook of the exploiting classes have influence on everyone in society, including communists. Certain individuals in the Party–and especially those whose positions in the Party involve full-time leadership functions and tend to remove them from direct contact with the masses–can abandon the cause of the class, go over to the stand of the exploiters and push their interests within the Party itself. Linking the Party as a whole, including its leadership, with the masses, and conducting struggle throughout the Party to determine the correct line based on the study of Marxism-Leninism and its application to the actual situation–this is the only way the Party can build on advances, overcome mistakes and continue to lead the working class forward to the revolutionary goal. And this is what the CP failed fundamentally to do.

By the early 1930s the CP, overcoming earlier internal divisions and weaknesses, was at the head of many large-scale struggles of the workers in this country. But even then, during its best period, the CP, though making many advances in leading the proletariat and bringing the question of revolution to the masses, worked on the erroneous premise that the U.S. was entering a revolutionary situation.

A revolutionary situation is a crisis in which the ruling class is no longer able to rule in the old way; the workers and other oppressed people can no longer live in the old way and millions are prepared to give their lives to achieve fundamental change; and the Party of the proletariat leads the class in preparing to seize power. In fact, the crisis was deep, in the early ’30s especially, but the bourgeoisie was not totally crippled; the masses were in motion and demanding answers, but were not convinced that revolution was necessary. Thus, instead of actually basing themselves on the masses and continuing to lead them forward, the CP leaders tried to impose their own wishes on the situation.

This basic failure to really rely on the masses was not rooted out, even when the CP recognized that a revolutionary situation was not right around the corner. Instead, it led the CP in the direction of abandoning revolution altogether. By the late 1930s, the CP, under the leadership of Earl Browder, had flip-flopped and taken up the theory that socialism could be achieved in the U.S. through reforms and elections. This was a serious step in the direction of actually giving up the struggle for socialism and paved a significant part of the way for the CP’s later total degeneration into revisionism.

Even as the CP grew in strength and influence through its work, the leaders grew more divorced from the struggles of the masses, becoming bureaucrats in little offices. Because the revolution they had expected hadn’t arrived, they not only looked with contempt on the working class, they became intimidated by the power of the ruling class that had survived such a deep crisis. And all this developed exactly as the CP was increasingly influencing mass struggles, through which it could have exposed the system, raised revolutionary consciousness, trained revolutionary leaders and in this way, laid more foundations for all-out revolutionary struggle in the future.

In this situation the Communist Party fell into pragmatism, an American ruling class philosophy which says, “It is not really possible to know the laws that govern nature and society; if something seems to work, never mind the reasons, do it.” This leads straight to revisionism which proclaims, “The movement is everything, the final aim nothing.” Following this philosophy, the CP no longer based itself on the working class, but tried to act as the Party of the “left,” tailing behind whatever gave the appearance of being progressive at any time–even Roosevelt!

Under Browder, all the CP’s gains became dust. The unions which had been so hard won became ends in themselves, not “schools for revolution.” And in the unions the CP was more interested in influencing a few top leaders than building the struggle of the rank and file.

With the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the change in the character of WW II, Browder completely threw out class struggle. The immediate task of the proletariat was in fact to defend the Soviet Union and defeat the fascist Axis. But Browder used this to cover up the nature of imperialism and the fact that U.S. imperialism, while fighting the fascist countries, was also aiming to strengthen its position as an imperialist power. He openly called on the workers in the U.S. to give up all struggle against the capitalists and follow Roosevelt to the promised land.

Browder turned the tactic of temporarily cooperating with the U.S. ruling class–for the sole purpose of defeating the fascist Axis–into a strategy for total and long-term cooperation with imperialism. His line was so corrupt the CP actually supported the U.S. ruling class when it carried out a “relocation act” during WW II, through which it herded tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast into concentration camps and stole their land–justifying this with chauvinist propaganda that branded them all a potential “fifth column” for an attack by Japan on the U.S.

Browder explained that the Black people’s struggle was over, since the ruling class was giving them equality and, along with everyone else, a good life. He even dropped “peaceful transition to socialism” in favor of no transition to socialism, and offered the ruling class the help of the U.S. workers in looting other nations. By 1944 Browder had drawn the logical conclusion of his treacherous theories and dissolved the Communist Party itself, replacing it with an “educational association.”

Although there was resistance to Browder’s revisionism, especially from the rank and file of the CP, it was not clear or effective. Much of this was due to the downplaying of political education–a policy Browder encouraged. CPUSA members were not trained in Marxism-Leninism, or in the spirit of constant struggle within the Party to determine the real situation and the road ahead.

Browder was finally thrown out in 1945 and the CPUSA restarted, but many of his followers and his ideas remained. During the next years, honest CP leaders and members fought a sharp battle to defeat revisionism. They attacked many revisionist policies in a scattershot way, but never developed a genuinely revolutionary line and strategy to replace “the peaceful transition to socialism.”

The Communist Party shrank in size under the blows of the ruling class anti-communist offensive in the late ’40s and early ’50s. The general response of the CP was to apologize for its ideas, and to try to prove that they really didn’t threaten the bourgeoisie. This laid the final groundwork for the destruction of the CP as an organization of the working class. By the time Khrushchev and Co. seized control of the Soviet Union in 1956, thousands were leaving the CPUSA, depressed, confused or angry. The revisionists consolidated their control and launched an all-out attack on what remained of revolutionary ideas or activity.

This betrayal robbed the U.S. working class for almost 20 years of a vanguard Party to represent its revolutionary interests. The present CPUSA stands as a grim warning of the results of failure to rely on the working class, and substituting pragmatism for the science of revolution.

The Revolutionary Communist Party is determined to heed this warning. The Revolutionary Communist Party is also determined to take up as its own the genuinely revolutionary heritage the fighters of the old CPUSA struggled, sacrificed, and even died creating.