Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Union

The Guardian: Rushing Headlong into the Swamp


First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 2, March 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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EROL Note: This article was one of three polemicizing against the Guardian newspaper that appeared in a special supplement to the March 1975 issue of Revolution. The other two are here and here.

The Guardian symbolizes the period coming to an end in the U.S. communist and mass movement.

Despite all its rhetoric to the contrary, the Guardian today has set itself dead against the development of a revolutionary workers’ movement and united front and the founding at this time of a new, genuinely revolutionary communist party to lead it.

The Guardian, along with other forces, is trying desperately to keep the movement in the old, primitive period. It is kicking and screaming and dragging its heels in an effort to halt the qualitative leap that now can be made, and must be made, based on the very real and significant accomplishments of the communist forces over the last several years.

Since its founding in 1948 as the unofficial organ of the Progressive Party, the Guardian has served as the voice of the radicalized petty bourgeoisie, and especially the radical intelligentsia which has always formed the newspaper’s base–doctors, lawyers, professors, teachers, social workers, journalists–as well as some small businessmen, union bureaucrats and others who share the same outlook.

This is the essence of its masthead slogan, “Independent Radical Newsweekly,” and its recent New Year’s resolution to “maintain and strengthen our independence.” The Guardian is and always was “independent” in two respects: “independent” of the monopoly capitalists and their two political parties (although this “independence” is not what it seems, as we shall see), and truly independent of the proletariat and the struggle for socialist revolution.

The Guardian arose during the period in which the working class was not headed by a conscious vanguard, a revolutionary communist party, and for that reason the class could not direct and unite all the struggles of the people.

Much of the more-or-less conscious opposition to imperialism in this period arose from within the petty bourgeois intelligentsia, and the Guardian, which reflected the changing ideas of this stratum, was able to play a progressive role during much of this time. That’s the basis for the Guardian’s influence today. Many people remember when the Guardian was just about the only “movement” publication, when it seemed a main voice of “the movement.”

The general anti-imperialist movement that developed primarily out of the U.S. national liberation and student movements of the 1960s was characterized both by its anti-imperialism–its opposition to the system of monopoly capitalism–and by its petty bourgeois base and outlook. This movement had to go forward or fall back. It couldn’t stand still because the force it was based on–the petty bourgeoisie–can’t carry the anti-imperialist struggle through to the world.

The petty bourgeoisie’s opposition to imperialism takes different forms at different times, depending on its own fortunes, the activity of other classes and forces, and the overall development of the struggle.

Guardian’s “Marketplace” of “Ideas”

As an objective historical force, however, the petty bourgeoisie wants a return to the period of capitalism before imperialism, the heyday of the free market of independent producers. Monopoly capitalism constantly crushes its small competitors, forcing them down into the ranks of the proletariat by the thousands. The average business in the U.S. lasts about five years before going under, while new forces constantly come forward into the petty bourgeoisie, spurred on by the hope of “becoming your own boss” and escaping wage slavery.

Although the number of small businessmen itself is comparatively small, their outlook is shared by many other petty bourgeois forces, including the large number of college-educated professionals (the intelligentsia) who may not own their own businesses, but because of their training and the nature of their work are “independent” in a way similar to the small businessman.

This professional-intelligentsia stratum is free to sell its services, taking on the outlook of the small producer and merchant whose social idea, “the free marketplace,” is reflected by the ideology of “a free marketplace of ideas.” Because all producers are not all equal under monopoly capitalism and small producers, merchants, and sections of the intelligentsia are constantly being forced down into the proletariat as wage slaves pure and simple, the petty bourgeoisie on the one hand hates and fights the monopolists, and on the other, fears the working class and loaths nothing so much as the idea of giving up its “freedom” and becoming workers.

The Guardian, with its “independence” as its most prized possession, was and remains an expression of this movement and its fond dreams of “freedom”– the freedom of the individual petty bourgeois and not the freedom of the proletarian class and all of oppressed humanity–and all this movement’s schemes ranging from pious electoral utopianism to terrorism.

This movement, of course, was far from all negative. In fact, it created the conditions for the proletarian movement today because it fought against the imperialist system and helped expose its rotten nature, and because it gave rise to many communists who took up Marxism-Leninism, the ideology and science of the working class, and took this science to the U.S. working class in its struggles. They were aided tremendously in this by the strengthening of the working class’ political and ideological line on a world scale, through the development of Mao Tsetung Thought and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China.

In other words, one divided into two. Some forces including the RU and others, merged with the working class, changing qualitatively, and today the communist movement is developing within the working class. The stand of the proletariat is not to slam the door on other “movement” forces who haven’t changed, who still up hold a petty bourgeois idea of revolution and communism. The proletariat wants to win them over. But this can only be done on the basis of recognizing that independent producers and their intellectual counterparts can never overthrow monopoly capitalism, and that under socialism such forces will disappear because the proletariat is out to socialize all production and step by step abolish the distinction between manual and mental labor. Unlike the petty bourgeoisie’s idea of freedom, the proletariat’s freedom is the freedom to liberate itself and all humanity by abolishing all classes.

Communist Forces Must Move Forward

Today the communist forces have got to strengthen and consolidate their advances and get rid of the petty bourgeois and bourgeois baggage holding them back. The mass movement in recent years has made significant advances and, in order to go forward rather than falling backward, needs systematic and concentrated proletarian leadership. This is why the formation right now of a new, revolutionary communist party has become not only possible, but absolutely necessary.

The question is–should we combine two into one and go backwards, trying to combine the outlook and political line of the old petty bourgeois movement with the proletarian movement? Should we try to build the proletariat’s communist party guided by the stand and outlook of the petty bourgeoisie, or should we be guided by the collective experience of the oppressed classes in history as summed up by the proletariat through the science of Marxism-Leninism, and the class stand of the working class whose only interest is in putting an end to all oppression?

Should we base ourselves firmly in the working class, to whom the future belongs? Or should we uphold the leadership of the working class on paper, but in reality base ourselves on the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie, a class which has given rise to a lot of radicalism but which, in the final analysis, has no future at all?

The editors of the Guardian will no doubt protest at this point that far from opposing the establishment of a new communist party, they’ve been for it for several years and hardly ever let a week pass without calling for one. But this kind of party talk is on all kinds of lips these days. The Guardian has been calling for some kind of party for over 25 years–a progressive party, a farmer-labor party, an independent radical party, a social-democratic party, and so on. Today, nearly everybody talks about party building. Changes in the development of the mass movement have put the question of a party squarely before every tendency calling itself revolutionary or communist. The question is not whether we call the party communist-the bourgeoisie already has one phony “Communist Party” and can make use of more since the “Communist Party” USA has been exposed to many. The question is–how should we proceed, on what basis should we unite, with what political line, and when all is said and done, what class is our party really a detachment of?

Perhaps the Guardian’s editors will respond in typical self-revealing fashion, by “accusing” us of identifying ourselves with the working class. How dare we! After all, is this not proof positive of the Guardian’s scathing criticism of us that we “seek hegemony”–in other words, that we think our line is correct-that it is the proletarian line–and want to unite with other forces on the basis of that line!

This “criticism” of theirs is just a plea for a petty bourgeois free marketplace of ideas with a Marxist cover. In its New Year’s editorial, the Guardian declares that there is not yet a guiding line, programme and policies, that we can’t yet resolve “the recent ideological confrontations,” and another article tells us that “the errors in mass work have been at least as significant as the accomplishments.”

To translate, there is not yet a basis for going forward, to unite all who can be united around a programme which reflects the application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of the U.S. and the sum-up of the experience of communist and other forces in the struggle against the imperialist system.

Like a Cross Before a Vampire

This is the heart of our differences with the Guardian and the like. We say that today we can and must move forward on the basis of our advances, while of course also learning from weaknesses and mistakes. But the Guardian denies that there have been any real advances, especially in the working class, and absolutely opposes going forward in e bold way. All its talk about fighting for “independence” is in fact fighting for the “right” to be independent of the working class and the hegemony of the proletariat and its political line-in fact, of the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is not a free marketplace either of things or ideas, but the complete smashing of the bourgeoisie and their state and relentless struggle against their ideological outlook.

What we object to most about the Guardian is not just its endless lies and slanders of the communist movement, but its nauseating cries of “independence, independence” at exactly the time when the task of communists is to put an end to the “independence” of genuine communist forces and unite all who can be united around the correct line and programme, to make the qualitative leap to what we have been working for and moving toward for some time–the single vanguard party of the working class to direct all the people’s struggles against imperialism.

The Guardian talks a lot about a party, but at the same time it holds up “independence” like a cross in front of a vampire. So what kind of party do they really mean? They say, “When the left is able to consolidate itself into a party...then it is possible to talk about success.” But if they deny that the proletarian movement has advanced, how can they be talking seriously about forming a proletarian party? And if they can’t offer anything more than the “left” “consolidating”–then how will their idea of a party differ from the old “movement?”

All the Guardian is actually talking about is a coalition of petty bourgeois radical forces–the old “movement” under a different name, a change made necessary by the very progress in struggle these forces deny –an amalgamation of groups on the basis of what they choose to call themselves, regardless of their ideological and political line and in opposition to the ideological and political line of the RU, other genuine communists, and the revolutionary proletariat.

It’s the question of forming the party now on the basis of the correct line, and advancing or falling back, that marks the shift in the Guardian’s character from mainly progressive, although petty bourgeois in outlook, to mainly reactionary–insisting that the revolutionary proletariat adapt itself to the outlook and interests of the petty bourgeoisie.

It is precisely because the Guardian is trying to subordinate what’s rising-the working class and its revolutionary ideology and programme–to all of its old petty bourgeois ways, it is precisely because it is trying to use the prestige that the working class and Marxism-Leninism have won among the radicalized petty bourgeoisie in order to oppose the formation of the proletarian party and the leadership of its line, that the Guardian today has set itself against the forward march of history.

This development was not inevitable, but it is consistent with the history of the Guardian and the fact that since the beginning of its existence, its fortunes have been firmly tied to the “independent radical” petty bourgeoisie.

During World War 2, the U.S. ruling class had entered into an unstable and temporary alliance with the socialist USSR against fascist Germany and the other imperialist fascist powers that represented the main danger to U.S. imperialism. After the war, the U.S. ruling class immediately shifted to an all-out drive to economically subjugate their former European allies through the Marshall Plan, put down by force the revolutionary movement in China and elsewhere, and isolate and “contain” the USSR. Within the U.S., they tried to snatch back some of the concessions wrested from them by the working class. Black people, and sections of the petty bourgeoisie, and instead adopt an open, vicious campaign to turn back the people’s gains.

A small section of the bourgeoisie opposed the policies used to carry out this drive–not because it opposed the rule of monopoly capital, but because it thought these policies would endanger that rule, as well as for reasons linked to their own position in the economy.

“The only way to enable capitalism to survive and prevent it from becoming a scarcity system is to go all-out for one-world trade. It means full employment, a high standard of living and peace. I think it can be sold.” These are the words of Henry Wallace, formerly Franklin Roosevelt’s vice-president, who quit the Democratic Party over Truman’s “betrayal” of Roosevelt’s “dream.” Wallace became the leading spokesman within the ruling class for this “soft” line, and it was his presidential candidacy in the 1948 elections that the Progressive Party was formed to support.

The Guardian was founded by a small group of newspapermen and financed by Progressive Party supporters, the first issue appearing at that party’s first convention. Then called the National Guardian–“the progressive newsweekly”–its name was meant to symbolize its intention to “guard” the nation’s “democratic tradition.”

As one of its editors put it, “We were going into business in the conviction that we had something to guard. If they wanted to know what it was, we referred them to Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” The paper’s first issue put its purpose like this: “To further the ideals of peace, freedom and abundance by giving the inheritors of FDR’s America an uninterrupted flow of facts to fight within the continuing battle for a better world.”

The Progressive Party was initiated with the help of the CPUSA, whose own line was not very different. But just as the Progressive Party was to have a life of its own, drawing in tens of thousands of intellectuals, small businessmen, shopkeepers, farmers, union officials, and some workers in CP-led trade unions, so also the Guardian was to have its own development, often linked with but distinct from the revisionist development of the CPUSA.

The National Guardian never claimed to be revolutionary, Marxist or even vaguely socialist (although it did stand for friendship with the then-existing socialist camp).

On one hand, it represented the reformist schemes of a stratum pushed up against the wall by monopoly capitalism’s post-war offensive, but on the other, it fought many of the most reactionary aspects of monopoly capital, chief among them the segregation and semi-feudal aspects of Black people’s oppression in the South; the threat of war against the USSR and U.S. attempts to stop the Chinese people’s liberation struggle; the suppression of the trade union movement and corruption of some of its leaders; the repression against the CPUSA and the anti-communist crusade against the people’s movements; and later the Korean war.

This alliance between a section of monopoly and the petty bourgeoisie, represented by the Progressive Party, was short-lived. Wallace soon revealed his true colors by supporting the U.S. invasion of Korea, and Guardian headlines said, “U.S. Could Become a Finance Capital State,” and “This is America: Set for Fascism.”

Wallace’s “betrayal,” the Korean war and the offensive against the people’s movement hardened the opposition of some forces, even though it frightened some into silence. The National Guardian staunchly opposed U.S. aggression in Korea and supported the Korean and Chinese people, spurring on the U.S. antiwar movement. When Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, two alleged CP members were framed and sentenced to death as “atom bomb spies,” the National Guardian played a major role in the fight for their defense.

Concurrent with this was a resurgence of ruling class repression against the Black struggle, marked by lynchings and police attacks, and the systematic expulsion of CP members and many of the most advanced elements of the working class from the trade unions.

But the trial of the Rosenbergs, two progressive intellectuals, was one of the things that struck the radical petty bourgeoisie most forcefully, and to which they reacted most forcefully. And it was here that the National Guardian made its stand, unfolding its defense of the CP and the campaign against the repression of Black people around that, under slogans calling for a return to the Bill of Rights and an end to “thought control.”

High Points of Guardian’s History

The struggle against the Korean war and the defense of the Rosenbergs marked the high points of Guardian history. Its circulation stood at almost 100,000. But as the mass movement began to recede, the Guardian began to falter. The McCarthy Committee itself hit hard at the Guardian, jailing and later deporting one of its founders. But, really, it was the whole movement the Guardian represented that declined; on the one hand, pushed back by the McCarthy repression, and on the other, totally bewildered and without any leadership, as the CP moved underground and left the movement without so much as a common organizational center. The Guardian’s circulation fell to 33,000 and a long period of financial crisis was born.

In a sense, the forces the Guardian represented were left high and dry because their political line had crashed and the movement they’d been a part of ebbed. A lot of the previously combative intelligentsia turned in on themselves, writing science fiction, opening small businesses, or simply falling into complete cynicism about ever changing anything.

But for the Guardian, this was no choice, just as it wasn’t for many others. The Guardian began to move to the left. It still put its faith in “the slumbering New Dealers,” but it accused the CP of selling out to the Democratic Party, and began to call for something that would replace the CP and the Progressive Party-a party which would be “anti-imperialist, understanding of and friendly to world socialism, and itself prepared to consider socialist solutions for our country’s welfare.”

This represented a break with the CP (or rather, represented the beginning of the CP’s break with the Guardian), because with this step the Guardian set out to rival the CP as a center for those “who advocate socialist solutions.” The Guardian’s criticism of the CP was that it acted as though monopoly capitalism was perfectly sound–which the radicalized intelligentsia knew to be a lie from its own experience, both politically through the failure of the Progressive Party, and economically because of its own continued precarious position.

But the Guardian’s sharp contradictions with monopoly were only one aspect of the development, as it still clung to the idea that all socialism would mean is an end to monopoly rule and “the restoration of democracy in America.” That it certainly didn’t mean the dictatorship of the proletariat was clear from its stand towards the 20th Party Congress of the Soviet CP, at which Khrushchev, representing the forces preparing s to restore capitalism, blasted Stalin and all he represented and, in essence, announced the end of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR.

The Guardian’s position was given by one of its editors, writing from Moscow; “It is the most efficient democracy that will win, and the citizen’s free initiative, not the kind or quality of leadership, is the main key to that efficiency. Is it capitalism or communism that can best stimulate it?...In the USSR as well as the U.S., the future depends on the people’s ability to shake off the psychological effects of cold war hysteria, of an era in which both countries’ political police have run amok.”

Developments in the Soviet Union and the CPUSA’s subsequent open peace with U.S. imperialism made the Guardian bolder in its search for a new political movement to sustain it, and for which it could speak.

As far as the Guardian was concerned, “anything goes.” In the wake of the revisionist attack on Stalin, Trotskyism sprung up everywhere like poisonous toadstools. The Guardian began to speak of “socialist unity,’ holding forums and meetings to unite the CP, Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party and other new Trotskyite and social-democratic forces. The Guardian’s long flirtation with Trotskyism flourished, including even open Trotskyite leadership within the paper’s staff in the 1960s and early 1970s.

But for all the Guardian’s eclectic efforts, it remained a head without a body. During the late 1950s and early ’60s, the radical intelligentsia brought forward during the Progressive Party period remained isolated, almost entirely without contact in any of the mass Struggles that began to develop again in this time, and with no clear idea about what line could move the struggle ahead.

During these years the Guardian took the tack of trying to be all things to all people. The old progressive movement forces were adrift and in slow decline. “Socialist unity” to consolidate what remained under one center proved impossible. New forces were springing up, especially among Black people and young white students, but these old forces were isolated from them, and for the most part were mere spectators.

The Guardian’s line was to applaud everything that came forward. It applauded Martin Luther King and his non-violence and dedication to bourgeois democracy. It applauded those Black leaders who opposed King’s line. It applauded the role of the “liberal” bourgeoisie in trying to divert the Black struggle, and it applauded Black attempts to resist that thrust.

Supreme “objectivity” replaced the Guardian’s partisanship. Even the new political and ideological struggle between the USSR and China was presented “objectively,” as the Guardian presented “both sides” and condemned ”the intemperate and destructive language of the debate.” The forces the Guardian represented were firmly on the fence in all things, unable to make peace with monopoly and unable to move against it. The paper’s circulation and finances declined further yet.

But as the mass movement began once again to surge forward, the Guardian flowered with it, rooting itself in the ban-the-bomb movement and some civil rights organizations, and enthusiastically taking up the student movement. As the movements became more militant, coming up against a ruling class that was all for sham reform but still continuing its foreign aggression and repression at home, the Guardian moved along with them.

And just as these new forces in motion had come from different sources in time and place than the old progressive movement, and were completely cut off from its positive and negative lessons, so also the Guardian, anxious to reflect this new upsurge, acted as though nothing had ever been learned from the old movement.

Rising and Falling With the Waves

The Guardian was not committed to any particular group of radical intellectuals. As a newspaper that depended on a mass movement for its survival, it clung to the mass movement of the radical intelligentsia in general, rising and falling with the waves. This period of transition included, in 1967, a takeover of the paper by its younger staff members who ousted the old leadership in order to more perfectly move with the tide.

With the rise of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Guardian found a temporary replacement for the Progressive Party. Both a reformist and a revolutionary trend arose within the student movement, and in many ways the Guardian was pulled toward the reformist trend (see the accompanying article on Carl Davidson, a leader of the reformist tendency within SDS, who began writing for the Guardian in 1967).

But while the Guardian’s new growth centered on the student movement, its readership was broader than students alone, and it had to reflect this fact. It couldn’t whole-heartedly accept the line pushed by Davidson and others that would have restricted the movement because that would have held back the Guardian’s own growth among these other forces.

The Vietnam war and the Black liberation struggle represented the main sources of radicalization for the petty bourgeoisie (as well as others) in this period. The Guardian gave central importance to the war and the struggle against it, covering it from the point of view of supporting the Vietnamese and other Indo-chinese peoples.

This was undoubtedly the single most important factor in the Guardian’s influence in the ’60s. To many people, the Guardian was the paper that opposed the war and tried to unite the anti-war movement (although, as we’ll see, its line on “unity” did more harm than good).

As the anti-imperialist movement grew and spread, alongside of it blossomed the dope-smoking do-your-own thing “youth culture” which was sparked by the anti-imperialist movement while in essence being opposed to it, although both tendencies were very much intertwined in practice.

With the Guardian’s internal changing of the guard in 1967, its own style changed sharply, reflecting both aspects of this development. Its old trademark of a “Guardian angel” representing all that was “progressive” in “the American democratic tradition” was replaced by a cigar-smoking, bearded figures holding a bomb.

The Guardian welcomed everything, from the increasing determination of SDS and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to call out the system for the imperialist monster that it was, to the Woodstock rock festival. The Guardian talked abstractly about unity in the “youth movement,” as now it speaks abstractly of unity in the communist movement.

What was good about the Guardian at that time is that it did identify the enemy as “the system,” and, soon, as the imperialist system. But at the same time, as the most advanced elements were trying to formulate a materialist analysis of the system and to scientifically define friends and enemies in order to mobilize the masses against the system, the Guardian was putting forward the totally idealist, “existentialist” and psychoanalytic theories of Jean-Paul Sartre and Herbert Marcuse, who claimed that at the center of all oppression lay the oppression not of classes, but of the individual personality.

As some of those who had come out of the student and national liberation movements began to turn to Marxism-Leninism, the Guardian at first argued against this development–calling for “democracy and decentralization with some aspects of Marxist economics.”

But a large part of the radical movement was quickly outgrowing these tired old concepts, which just continued the old “participatory democracy” idealism of SDS’s early days. This nonsense was obviously incapable of hitting the imperialist system. The movement wanted something more radical–more revolutionary and more scientific.

Again, several lines arose in SDS, breaking into open warfare during 1968-69, the rise of all of them reflecting the tremendous upsurge of the student movement and its straining to break away from the political restraints that had confined it to a relatively small sector of the population.

At the center of this storm was the Progressive Labor Party, an organization that had attracted quite a few students because it called itself communist, and did place the issue of communism more squarely before SDS, but that carried out a right wing line with a thin “left” cover which turned Marxism into a joke. Since the Guardian loves to rant and rave today about how the RU is “the new PL,” let’s take a look at what stand the Guardian took on PL.

Attacked PL for Being “Leninist”

In a front-page feature on “Where the Revolution is At,” in June 1968, Guardian managing editor Jack Smith directed his fire at the “disciplined,” “Peking oriented,” “Leninist,” “traditionally Marxist” PL and its “incredibly naive ideas about building an industrial base.”

“PL,” the article continues, “sees the industrial working class as the only vehicle for revolution and believes that the most important contradiction in advanced capitalist society is the exploitation and appropriation of surplus value...On the other hand, many of the new left hold that the nature of exploitation has changed and now involves such issues as domestic imperialism, compulsive consumption, the broadening definition of the working class and the political, economic and social effects of automation and the possibility of a post-scarcity society.”

This, we wish to stress, was meant in condemnation of PL and praise of the “new left”! Of course, what was wrong with PL had nothing to do with being “disciplined,” “Leninism” or the ”industrial working class being the only vehicle for revolution,” but its attempt to use the words “working class” to beat down every anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggle to the level of trade unionism, and even within the trade unions to trail behind the most backward bureaucrats.

In the name of “Marxism,” PL condemned the Black Panther Party and the whole Black liberation movement as ”bourgeois nationalist,” and proceeded to attack the Vietnamese communists and people for the same thing (because they didn’t call for the immediate establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in south Vietnam, but rather insisted that the immediate and principal task was to unite all who could be united to defeat and throw out the U.S. aggressors).

In the student movement, this super-“left” double-talk represented the most right-wing line, because with this PL attacked the real struggles that were inspiring and moving forward thousands of students and others at that time. Many forces, including the RU, which had turned to “traditional Marxist thinking” knew that PL’s “Marxism” was a caricature of real Marxism-Leninism and struggled fiercely against PL. (See “Against the Brainwash” in Red Papers 1, 1969.)

In the correct struggle against PL, another incorrect line arose–the “white skin privilege” line, according to which white workers were all bribed and not worth the time of day.

The Guardian went wild with the “white skin privilege” line for a year while SDS burned. But with the collapse of SDS in 1969, the Guardian suddenly found itself alone once again and began “to sober up.”

The student movement continued to divide and divide again. The “white skin privilege” advocates split into two hostile camps: the Weathermen–who took the line to its logical conclusion-decided that since the white workers and masses were “corrupt” and didn’t “support the third world,” they had to be fought, and set about on a bombing crusade against imperialist bath rooms; and those who recoiled from Weatherman’s violence but upheld the essence of the line. (This included some of the present leadership of the October League.)

These splits were reflected within the Guardian itself. For awhile, it tried the old everything-for-every-body approach that had served it so well in the past. While some writers hurriedly put on some “Leninist” clothes, others openly attacked Leninism and called for “sexual revolution” or any one of a thousand other gimmicks to halt the ebb in the student movement. But it was too late. By trying to stand at the center of a dividing movement, the Guardian only stood on quicksand.

“Liberated Guardian

This was brought home to the Guardian with the arrest of three young radicals for allegedly blowing up a United Fruit warehouse and other buildings in New York. Two of them had recently worked for the Guardian. The paper’s response was to print a front-page editorial against individual terrorism as a substitute for mass action.

This generally correct position had another incorrect aspect. The Guardian tried to put as much distance as possible between itself and the alleged bombers, putting more stress on moralistic criticizing than on trying to win over revolutionary-minded forces which upheld the terrorist line. This reflects the social pacifism and out and out cowardliness that have characterized the Guardian for years.

A group of Guardian workers and others who supported the Weatherman line briefly took over the Guardian offices, then went on to establish the “Liberated Guardian,” which attracted many of the Guardian’s former supporters.

This was the Guardian’s lowest ebb, its dream of being everything for everybody rudely shattered. Its readership fell to under 15,000 and it entered a financial crisis so severe that for a year it warned its subscribers that it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

In terms of an apparent decline and division in the movement for which the Guardian had claimed to speak, the paper found itself in a position that looked similar to what it had gone through in the late 1950s. But U.S. imperialism could not pull off the temporary stabilization it had achieved a decade before. Now the system was openly cracking at the seams, under full attack everywhere in the world. And unlike the late 1950s and early ’60s, when many in the radical intelligentsia were able to find careers for themselves, now college-educated youth found themselves worse off than for many years.

Both politically and economically the ground was not ripe for illusions about making the system more democratic by peaceful means.

Most of those who had come out of the student movement and remained politically active considered themselves Marxist, and it was Marxist that the Guardian had to become. Because there was as yet no generally accepted understanding of what Marxism was, The Guardian offered a smorgasboard. The Voices of Revolution column, for instance, initiated to show attention to political theory, carried quotes from Helen Keller, Kim II Sung, Lin Piao, Mao Tsetung (only once before 1972), Lenin, Camilo Torres, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Antonio Gramsci, Harry Haywood, Georg Lukacs, Pedro Albizu Campos, Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende and Leon Trotsky–and finally, only awhile after Trotsky, Joseph Stalin–to be followed by CP revisionist Angela Davis and even “sexual theoretician” Wilhelm Reich.

Guardian Tries to Become “The Center”

Once again the movement was without a center, and the Guardian set out once again to become that center. Some of the forces that had come out of the 1960s and were now studying Marxism-Leninism were in small collectives scattered across the country. On the one hand, the objective need for a common center, just for the exchange of information if nothing more, offered the Guardian a real opportunity. On the other ^ hand, because of the smallness and relative isolation of these forces, the Guardian began to hedge its bets.

Since now the watchword was “Marxism,” the Guardian decided that maybe the CP wasn’t so bad after all. The leadership of the Guardian began a series of meetings with the leadership of the CP and various factions within it, first with the idea of achieving some sort of peaceful coexistence, and later with the intention of splitting off the CP’s “left wing,” as exemplified by Dorothy Healy (who was offered the Guardian’s executive editorship), and others who later left the CP to join the New American Movement. Especially around the time of the Angela Davis trial, the Guardian opened its pages to many CP writers, and even as that began to fade it still conducted “a dialogue” with the CP leadership in its “Radical Forum” columns.

But the Guardian was a little too left and “independent” for the “left wing” of the CP, and the CP proved to be too obviously and hopelessly exposed as rightest, especially since it wouldn’t drop its insistence on “the peaceful transition to socialism” line (which most radicals had come to see through by the end of the ’60s), and to break away from the Democratic Party (which also had about zero credibility with Guardian readers).

The CP represents open capitulation to the monopolists–that had been proved in practice to many of even the more backward sectors of the radicalized intelligentsia. The Guardian therefore didn’t dare stray too close to the CP, lest it lose its footing in the independent radical camp.

Just as it had called for a loosely-knit socialist party in the late 1950s, so now again the Guardian called for “a new party based on Marxism,” leaving it “open” whether this would be a revolutionary party of the Leninist type or a reformist, social-democratic party. This August 1970 cry of desperation for a consolidated base to be formed under its sinking head is the origin of the Guardian’s present proud stance on party building.

It was in the anti-war movement that the Guardian once again scurried to find its footing. The continuing and intensifying U.S. imperialist aggression in Southeast Asia was more than ever drawing into motion new forces from among students and the intelligentsia and turning them against the system.

The Guardian made a positive contribution to the anti-war struggle at this time by publishing and popularizing the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam’s Seven Point Program to End the War, as well as by its general coverage of the military aspects of the struggle from the Vietnamese side.

But the Guardian never carried through to take up the actual line of the Vietnamese on winning the war, which was to rely primarily on themselves, fully mobilizing the Vietnamese people in revolutionary struggle.

Instead, the Guardian pushed the line of relying on the so-called “liberal” U.S. bourgeoisie, the revisionists and the social-imperialists, strongly implying that the Vietnamese people could not win by relying on their own forces and that the U.S. people could never force an end to the war without the help of a section of the ruling class.

The Trots and revisionists played a Punch-and-Judy show in the anti-war movement, with the Trots opposing the Seven Point Peace Plan as a “Stalinist sellout,” and the CP opposing militant mass demonstrations which would “alienate” the “liberal” bourgeoisie and detract from the task of electing McGovern. The Guardian waffled between the two, opposing what was most obviously incorrect in each line but never pointing out the unity of both in sabotaging the anti-war movement by trying to tie it to the tail of the U.S. ruling class.

Guardian Builds Up “Liberal” Imperialists

While raising the Seven Point Plan, the Guardian conceded to the Trots that it should not be the main slogan of the anti-war movement because that would ‥narrow it”–by excluding the Trots (and bourgeois politicians). And in opposing the CP’s attempt to convert the anti-war movement into a McGovern movement, the Guardian nevertheless held out its basic agreement with the CP’s “analysis” of McGovern, although not agreeing with the CP’s conclusion. The significance of the 1972 election, the Guardian editorialized, was that “one section of capital, represented by McGovern, wants to end the war. They are even willing to do it on terms acceptable to the Vietnamese.

This was backwards and wrong. The Seven Point Peace Plan represented the terms acceptable to the Vietnamese at the time, as they themselves made clear, and in demanding that the U.S. government agree to that plan the anti-war movement put the whole U.S. ruling class up against the wall.

In fact, it was the “liberal” McGovern who never agreed that the Treaty was the way to end the war. And it was not the “liberal” politicians who ended the war–they only prolonged it by their endless attempts to pimp off of the people’s hatred of the war and to turn the growing exposure of the imperialist system into its opposite by proving that “the system works” and tying the people to their own coattails.

At this crucial moment, as the anti-war movement floundered due to the treason of its “leaders,” the Guardian covered its “radical” tail by refusing to lend its own name to the McGovern campaign while at the same time insisting that it would not “oppose the growing trend among the masses who intend to vote for McGovern,” and opposing the “ultra-left sectarianism that has taken the form of opposing the presence of liberal politicians on the platforms of antiwar rallies.”

While making a big show about “mobilizing the masses in their millions,” this line opposed the only real way the masses could really be mobilized-by convincing people that it was not the “liberal” politicians who “broadened” the anti-war movement, but the determined struggle of the Vietnamese and opposition to the war by the vast majority of U.S. people that forced the U.S. ruling class to consider cutting its losses and getting out, and that only by stepping up the struggle could they be forced to actually do so.

While it was a good thing that these politicians had been forced to talk about ending the war, the real effect of their efforts was to demobilize the masses. The main danger within the anti-war movement was not “ultra-left” opposition to the “presence” of “liberal” politicians (their presence on anti-war rally platforms should have been opposed), but right-wing capitulation to the line of these politicians, which was to end the anti-war movement.

In practical terms, the result of the Guardian’s capitulation was to issue a call for the CP and SWP-led antiwar coalitions to merge as the only way to move the anti-war movement forward, while condemning the efforts of the RU and other communist and anti-imperialist forces to take on the opportunist Trot-revisionist line and rebuild the anti-war movement on the basis of relying on the masses and bringing out the nature of the ruling class and its system in the course of that struggle.

In essence, the Guardian’s line on the anti-war movement reduced the masses to a mere pressure group of the “liberal” bourgeoisie. That line emerged even more clearly around Watergate, where the Guardian (like the OL, with its “Unparalyze Congress” line) jumped to the aid of the bourgeoisie in trying to confine the whole business to the legal processes of impeachment –all to. prove that “the system works.”

Here the Guardian finally came full circle. Just as in 1948 it had maintained that Roosevelt’s “policies and programs” had represented the interests of the people while Truman represented fascism and the end of “freedom of thought,” so now, 25 years later, the Guardian declared that the struggle within the ruling class around Watergate represented the struggle between “bourgeois democracy and bourgeois fascism,” and that the masses had to pressure the “liberal bourgeoisie” to deliver “a stinging rebuff” to the “fascists” by impeaching Nixon.

Just how little the Guardian’s pronouncements on Watergate differ from the CP’s is revealed in this little February 1973 piece of analysis: “To conduct their side of the class struggle,” Davidson begins like a chess master, “the bourgeoisie requires not only an economic program but a political program as well. On the international side this is most sharply expressed in the policy of neocolonialism...On the domestic front, the Nixon administration is struggling for hegemony. The battle is occasioned by a shift in priorities from reformist to repressive tactics to wage the class struggle, which also reflects a realignment of forces within the bourgeoisie...The pinnacle of finance capital’s power–led by the Rockefellers–is clearly leaving the infrastructure of liberal reforms in the lurch and solidifying alliances with the military-industrial center of power in the South and Southwest...”

An Essay That Would Make Gus Hall Proud!

“But Nixon has been forced to go beyond the ’normal’ limits of political wheeling and dealing...As a result, the administration’s policy contains within it a broad assault on democratic rights...The liberal opposition, itself a mouthpiece for monopoly interests, is only an immediate target in Nixon’s plan...Nixon’s ’New American Majority,’ stuck together through the pursuit of his ’Southern Strategy,’ is itself a political assault on the working class, aimed at breaking its ability to develop class unity, unite with its allies and challenge the policies, if not the rule, of capital.”

Now this is a little essay that would make Gus Hall himself proud. Vietnam and Watergate certainly did reveal a real division in the ruling class, a real struggle over policies, and more importantly, over how to divide up a shrinking pie. But it’s one of the CP’s favorite “theories” that there are different “wings” of the bourgeoisie, one wedded to “reform” and the other to “repression,” and that at any particular time either reform or repression is what characterizes the rule of the bourgeoisie.

But the fact is that the entire ruling class is quite happy to use either reform or repression whenever it suits its purposes, combining the two for maximum effect. There has never been a time when monopoly’s rule was characterized by “reform” without repression, and this repression is not the opposite of reform, not “a broad assault on democratic rights,” but the ordinary repression that is the basis for bourgeois democracy, for the bourgeois-democratic form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

After all, was Kennedy swayed by a policy of “neocolonialism” rather than direct armed intervention when he launched the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and began U.S. intervention in Vietnam, all the while talking about reform? Was that great “civil rights president” Lyndon Johnson against sending U.S. troops into Watts?

Is the “military-industrial complex of the South and Southwest” more rapacious and brutal than the Harriman-Eastern finance capitalists of whom Davidson is so fond? Is the “infrastructure of liberal reforms” –the small concessions such as the poverty programs and other social services–being “left in the lurch” because Rockefeller has “deserted” them or because the imperialists just can’t afford them in the midst of their developing crisis?

The Utmost Idealism

All this highly “Marxist” “materialist analysis” is really the utmost in idealism, as though different sections of the ruling class represented “good” and “bad” rulers who could decide on policies of hanging or not hanging the people as they liked. This view acts as though the monopoly capitalists were free-free to act or not act like monopoly capitalists–and not driven by the development of their system and the attacks on it everywhere. But the logic is this: since the imperialists are “free,” why can’t the people put some pressure on them and force them to be nice? Why do we need revolution anyway?

To this way of thinking, the main threat to our “freedom of thought” comes when the “liberal” bourgeoisie vacillates before the “fascist” bourgeoisie and lets them have their way. Note the main danger of Nixon’s “strategy” – that he tried to “bribe” white workers by appealing to their “white skin privileges” and “white supremacy” to support his “moves toward fascism.”

And note where the main hope lies–not with the working class and all oppressed people whose struggle was advanced by the campaign to Throw the Bum Out –but with the “liberal” bourgeoisie which supposedly opposed these policies so “welcomed” by the people!

“Move the Bourgeoisie to the Left!”

The OL slogan, “Unparalyze Congress” is matched by this “strategic analysis”: we should “support the mass sentiment for impeachment” and “bring millions of people into motion” to demand impeachment because “the liberals will not take up this task” of defending “the elementary democratic rights of the people,” or, “aim the main blow at the White House,” unparalyze “the instability” of the “liberal” bourgeoisie and force the ruling class to live up to its promises.

Is the Guardian (and OL’s) line really very different from the CP’s, except to differ with the CP over whether the best way to reform (in reality, defend) the system is to join the Democratic Party and foreswear violence, or whether it would be better to stay outside the Democratic Party, use the masses as a pressure group, and maybe talk a lot about armed struggle and even socialism as “our final aim,” while today of course the main thing is “mass democratic struggles” to move the bourgeoisie to the left?

All this rhetoric about “unparalyzing” the “liberal” bourgeoisie and its instability is apparently taken from Lenin’s Two Tactics of Social Democracy. In Russia of 1905, when this work was written, the government was a monarchy, represented by the tsar, which was locked in struggle with a real liberal bourgeoisie which wanted to rule Russia through bourgeois democracy. These represented two distinct classes, despite their common hatred and fear of the masses, and the conflict between them had a real material base that no conflict between a supposedly “liberal” and “fascist” bourgeoisie could ever have in the monopoly capitalist U.S.

But even in terms of the circumstances existing then in Russia, the Guardian and other such “Marxists” have gotten Lenin totally backwards. Instead of calling on the working class to “unparalyze the instability of the liberal bourgeoisie” (make it behave), Lenin declared, “The proletariat must carry the democratic revolution through to the end, allying itself to the mass of the peasantry in order to crush the autocracy’s resistance by force and paralyze the bourgeoisie’s instability. The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution, allying to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population, so as to crush the bourgeoisie’s resistance by force and paralyze the instability of the peasantry and petty bourgeoisie.” (Emphasis added).

The analysis offered us by the Guardian and OL is exactly opposite to Leninism–it’s the stand of traitors who despise the working class and gamble everything on unity with the bourgeoisie.

This is how Lenin responded to the “unparalyze the liberal bourgeoisie” line of the 1905 revolution: “The real moving force in history is the revolutionary struggle of classes; reforms are the by-product of this struggle, a by-product because they express the unsuccessful attempts to weaken, to blunt this struggle, etc. According to the teachings of bourgeois philosophers, the motive force of progress is the solidarity of all elements in society which have realized the ’imperfection’ of this or that institution. The first teaching is materialist, the second is idealist. The first is revolutionary, the second is reformist. The first provides the basis for the tactics of the proletariat in the present-day capitalist countries. The second provides the basis of the tactics of the bourgeoisie.” (“More on the Duma Ministry”)

So far, we’ve shown how the Guardian has not fundamentally changed over most of its 25 years, although its character has taken different forms in accordance with the times. But that character and the Guardian’s role have changed sharply in the most recent period, both because of its internal development and also because of the development of the mass movement itself which has influenced that internal development.

Whereas for most of its previous history the Guardian has been “independent” by trying to appear independent of all political tendencies, both within the U.S. and internationally, taking the position that “socialist unity” was the main thing within the U.S. and that the polemics between the USSR and China were a bad thing, now the very development of the struggle has meant that among increasingly large circles, being “radical” means looking to China and its line internationally, and to the rising new communist movement within the U.S.

And whereas being “radical” (like “progressive” before it) had meant seeing oneself as above the class struggle, implying the unity of all “people of good will” regardless of class, now increasingly it has to mean looking to the working class and its struggle.

So now the weaknesses and incorrectness of the Guardian’s line are coming fully to the fore and it has begun to play an increasingly reactionary role. The Guardian never did represent the most advanced forces and line, but previously its backwardness had reflected the weaknesses of the anti-imperialist movement as a whole.

But as the communist movement began to surge forward, with many former students and intellectuals linking up with the working class and as the advances in the working class began to attract the attention also of many other radical intellectuals who hadn’t yet joined up with the working class but who were moving in that direction, some petty bourgeois radicals and forces decided to call themselves communists–not on the basis of any real change in their ideological and political line or qualitative change in themselves, but on the basis of the changes in the mass movement.

Among such forces was the Guardian, which started publicly calling itself communist in 1973–not because it had gained any ties with the working masses (it admittedly has none), nor because it had worked out even the beginnings of a scientific application of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of the U.S. (if it has, it’s keeping it a secret), but because now suddenly it began to be very stylish to call yourself communist. To the Guardian, it was a gimmick, no more.

This “change” was accompanied by an internal struggle within the Guardian, because in the face of both the objective advances and the objective needs of the mass movement, some members of the Guardian staff came forward and began to struggle for a real communist line, insisting that the Guardian take Marxism-Leninism seriously and not just as another sales device, that it conscientiously investigate the communist movement and consider how, with the proletariat’s political and ideological line, the Guardian could help advance the united front against imperialism.

Intensified Struggle in Guardian

But the very advances of the proletarian movement have intensified the political and ideological struggle within the petty bourgeoisie. The tendency of many petty bourgeois radicals to try to tie the working class to the outlook and line of the intelligentsia has grown more dangerous, because the class outlook and position of these people is now increasingly threatened from two sides–from the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

This tendency is growing stronger every day because as the current imperialist economic and political crisis deepens, more and more sections of the petty bourgeoisie are thrown into action to defend their interests, a battle they take up not just against the bourgeoisie but also against the working class as they come up with a million and one schemes to make the working class save the petty bourgeoisie–which it can’t and won’t do–or, among more backward elements, to attack the working class outright as the source of all the petty bourgeoisie’s problems.

Even as the Guardian attempted to cover itself with the glory of the working class (especially its achievements in China), one divided into two within the Guardian. A number of staff members were expelled for “ultra-leftism” (being too close to the RU) and the Guardian began the vitriolic attacks on the RU which are one of its main features today.

The Guardian’s “independence” also changed in another way. The growing exposure of the CP forced the Guardian to drop its discreet flirtation and begin attacking the CP in its pages, although in practice it has continued to promote the CP (through its favorable coverage of many of the CP’s campaigns, such as the CP’s attempt to sabotage the anti-repression struggle through its National Alliance Against Racism and Repression, etc.) and to claim that what’s wrong with the CP is that it doesn’t represent ”a communist voice,” rather than pointing out that what the CP does represent is reaction and counter-revolution.

But the Guardian, as a small group of people totally isolated from the masses, needed an organization more than ever, in order to allow it to try to take advantage of the growing sentiment for revolution in the U.S. And its very isolation encouraged it to link up with an organization whose political line justified that isolation–the October League.

Only a few months after the Guardian began to cast its bait in “communist” waters in the summer of 1972, OL switched over from its previous “left” phase, where it had “concentrated” on “Marxist-Leninist propaganda for the advanced,” and flopped to the right, trying to break out of its isolation by taking the line that communists should be good trade unionists, nationalists and feminists, plus mentioning China every once in awhile, presenting it in essence as a trade unionist-nationalist-feminist country.

Today, when people ask why the Guardian puts such a premium on its “independence” when the Guardian and OL obviously follow the same political line, the Guardian claims that it won over OL and not the other way around. We’re certainly willing to accept this claim, especially since Carl Davidson has openly taken the chair as OL’s chief theoretician.

Both Hate the Working Class

OL needed the Guardian to build up the organization’s “status” and as its doorway into the radicalized petty bourgeoisie (where OL has increasingly focused its efforts as it grows more and more impatient and despairing that the working class will ever come over to its views), and the Guardian needed OL as its passport into the new communist movement, since of all the organizations that call themselves “communist,” OL is one of a very few that have taken the Guardian’s “communist” pretensions seriously.

The burning question before the communist movement in the early ’70s was: who will make the revolution? The conclusion of the RU and other genuine communists was that only the working class can make the revolution, and on the basis of its revolutionary stand it can win over the vast majority of the people.

That’s why the RU put forward that the central task of communists at that time was to build the struggle, consciousness and revolutionary unity of the working class and its leadership in the anti-imperialist struggle, and to unfold around that both building the united front against imperialism among other classes and strata and building the proletariat’s communist party.

But for the Guardian, OL and several others, the main task then was what they still consider it to be today–building the party separate from the proletariat –in other words, building a party of petty bourgeois radicals. They may say that party building should be ”combined” with mass work of some type, but because they don’t see any practical or theoretical connection between the two, they don’t see the party emerging from the working class but rather from themselves alone.

If you believe that the masses of working people have a “potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism,” as Mao says, and that only by bringing the science of Marxism-Leninism to the working class in its struggles can revolution ever be more than a fantasy, then isolation from the working class is death itself.

But if you believe that revolution doesn’t mean something new, if you don’t think it means the qualitative change of the working class as an oppressed class today into the leader of the struggle against all oppression and the ruling class tomorrow, then all you need to do is re-arrange some of the things lying around today.

All you need to do (and this is the OL and Guardian’s real, practical link with the CP, with whom they cooperate in a thousand ways) is unite trade union bureaucrats who make progressive noises, bourgeois nationalists who make progressive noises, feminists who make progressive noises, “radical” politicians and bureaucrats in government who make progressive noises– in other words, to form a united front of “people of good will” instead of bothering with the long and difficult process of building the revolutionary unity of the proletariat and its leadership in the united front.

If you want to do some radical reporting from this point of view, all you have to do is to quote some progressive trade union vice-president–or, for the mass touch, what the Wall Street Journal has to say about the workers’ sentiments–because, after all, what else is the working class good for? Why should you want to know what the workers really feel, and why should we be concerned with the activity of the workers themselves? After all, don’t they have ail sorts of backward ideas and are not nearly so progressive as the progressive intellectuals.

Once-A-Year “Labor Supplement”

But the Guardian’s attempts today are utterly reactionary and amount to open class collaboration with the bourgeoisie. In one sense, the Guardian is a joke. What kind of “communist” newspaper puts out a special “Labor Supplement” about the working class and for “distribution to workers” one week a year? A real communist publication speaks for the working class and to the working class, as well as to others in every issue. But the Guardian, for all its pretensions, is still happily speaking for “the movement” to “the movement” and occasionally mentioning the working class –from the petty bourgeoisie’s view of paradise.

But in another sense the Guardian does real harm, not so much among the workers, whom it doesn’t even try to reach, but among the many radical intellectuals who are moving toward the proletariat and the proletarian line, but who can still be confused and set back either for short or long periods of time by the opportunism of forces like the Guardian.

As long as it maintains the outlook that reflects its position in society, the petty bourgeoisie can’t really break away from the big bourgeoisie. It can’t be really independent. The stronger the proletariat grows ideologically and politically, the more of the petty bourgeoisie can be won over to the proletariat’s side.

But if the proletariat dilutes its class stand, if it concedes even an inch to the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie that seeps into the proletariat every day, if it ceases to fight the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie even as it tries to unite with and win over the petty bourgeoisie, or at least large sections of it, then there can be no revolution.

Any attempts to combine the outlook of the proletariat and petty bourgeoisie in essence represent the interests of the bourgeoisie itself, not of the proletariat nor of the broader masses of people, including the petty bourgeoisie.

This is particularly dangerous today, because while in the past period the communist movement in the U.S. was characterized by organizations and collectives working in comparative isolation from each other and from the working class itself, without a generally recognized guiding line, programme and policies, today this is not true. The Guardian is a typical representative of those forces which rant and rave and quote without restraint about Marxism in the abstract, about book Marxism. But Marxism means nothing in the abstract, and any attempts to keep it abstract betrays Marxism.

The advances of the communist movement have come because people have studied Marxism-Leninism and applied it, bringing both advances in the mass movement and advances in our understanding of Marxism-Leninism which in turn must serve to advance the mass movement even further.

If all there were to Marxism-Leninism were ideas in general or recipes floating in outer space, then the bourgeoisie itself would take up this weapon. But the fact is that Marxism-Leninism represents the outlook and the class interests of the proletariat and the proletariat alone.

Because petty bourgeois radicals must in the final analysis either side with the proletariat or become a radical front for the bourgeoisie (as so many radical politicians and others recently have), the Guardian’s real role in trying to confuse and hold back such radicals is to represent class collaboration–the collaboration of those who want to use the mass movement to advance their own careers, waving the red flag in order to “terrify” the bourgeoisie and make it behave “more nicely” toward the petty bourgeoisie.

What Kind of “Party” Do They Want?

There are a thousand examples of how the Guardian does this, and we’ve polemicized against many of its reformist positions in the past. In one sense, the best way to gauge the Guardian’s outlook is to consider all aspects of the newspaper, since its stand is most fully revealed in its endless cartoons and photographs taken from the New Yorker and the “liberal” daily press.

All of these show things from the bourgeoisie’s point of view: huge capitalists, little tiny workers; smiling cops holding down defenseless demonstrators; smiling Rockefellers and crying mothers and babies–in short, endless repression and little resistance. This the bourgeoisie are only too glad to send out over their wire services to reinforce their repressive rule, to say to the people: we’re in control, step out of line and you’ll get hurt.

We’re not going to sum up here all that we’ve said in the past about the Guardian. But because founding the proletariat’s revolutionary communist party is the present key and absolutely essential task of communists, we want to focus for a minute, in concluding this main article in this special supplement on the Guardian and what it has represented and now represents, on what kind of party the Guardian is talking about forming and what it’s talking about taking to the working class.

Here’s the Guardian’s latest proclamation on “What is To Be Done,” as they so modestly put it in their Jan. 27, 1975 issue: “In the period ahead, communists must take the lead in the struggle to defend the living standards of the working class in the fight for jobs, for wider unemployment insurance, for increased social services, for protection against the ravages of inflation. They must help the working class and its allies, key among them the oppressed nationalities, develop the fighting mass organizations which will be able to stand up against the monopoly capitalists in these struggles, particularly the struggle against fascistic repression and for democratic rights. They must actively participate in the process of strengthening the workers’ own defense organizations, the trade unions, by fighting for genuine trade union democracy and rank-and-file leadership.”

Note that there is nothing here about revolutionary struggle, developing revolutionary consciousness, developing revolutionary unity and organization. The emphasis is not on offense, the growing strength of the working class and masses, but on defense, the growing strength of the ruling class. This is the stand of social workers out to reconcile the “lower classes” to their misery and is not the stand of communists.

It reminds us of Engels’ description of the English Fabian socialists: “A gang of place hunters, shrewd enough to understand the inevitability of the social revolution, but totally unwilling to entrust this gigantic task to the immature proletariat alone. Their fundamental principle is fear of revolution...Haughty bourgeois, benevolently descending to the proletariat to liberate it from above, if only it is willing to understand that such a raw, uneducated mass cannot liberate itself, and can attain nothing without the charity of these clever attorneys, litterateurs and sentimental females.”

The Old Period is Coming to an End!

The Guardian’s mouthings about “the period ahead” are particularly disgusting because during the period that is coming to an end, revolutionary intellectuals have merged with the working class and communists have come forward from within the working class, and the bridge to the period ahead–the period of the proletariat’s conscious leadership of all the people’s struggles–is the struggle to form the proletariat’s advanced, conscious detachment–its communist party.

We are able to move forward towards the party today because communists have taken part in all the proletariat’s struggles, including its defense of its living standard and also its struggles against all oppression which together can unite the class and its allies.

They have done so by taking up the battles that working people have always waged–not by making up fancy and Utopian plans for how life can supposedly be improved and the people “protected” against the “ravages” of capital, trying to scare everyone into a defensive posture with the menace of fascism–but by developing the working class’ conscious and revolutionary struggle against capitalism.

Under the leadership of a bourgeois or petty bourgeois line, the working class cannot “stand up to capital,” either to defend itself or to put an end to capital. Telling the working class how democratic rights and social services can “protect” it only disarms the workers and therefore aids the bourgeoisie.

By taking up the struggles of the people, relying on the people, and applying the stand of the working class and its scientific ideology, communists bring the working class the consciousness through the struggles of today that will enable it to smash imperialism and become the masters of society tomorrow. We form the party in order to accomplish this task, and for no other reason.

It is precisely because communists have made these advances and because we now stand on the threshold of a new period and the formation of a new communist party that the Guardian has been forced to leap out from behind its “independent” cover and attack the working class and its political and ideological line by lying about, distorting, ignoring or downplaying every real advance made by the working class in the last several years–the Farah strike and the class solidarity with that strike of hundreds of thousands of workers and others all over the U.S., the West Virginia miners’ strike last winter for gas for all in the state, the miners’ protest against South African coal imports, the struggle against the ENA in steel, the many militant struggles of auto workers, the emergence of political workers’ organizations in dozens of industries and cities, the veterans’ movement, the campaign against police repression carried out all across the U.S., all the strikes, demonstrations and other workers’ actions led by communists and other advanced workers, and the strengthening of the proletarian line among other sectors of the people such as the oppressed nationalities and students, as well as the theoretical advances made by summing up the lessons learned in these and other struggles and in the struggle against opportunism.

Guardian’s “Central Task”: Oppose the Proletariat

This is why the Guardian has taken on as its real central task not the formation of a real communist party, but trying to act as the center for all those “leftist” organizations that oppose the line of the RU and other proletarian forces, which in essence means trying to halt the formation of a new revolutionary communist party.

The Guardian says it’s fighting what it calls “hegemony”–the hegemony of any line and the leadership of any organization in the mass movement. In reality, this means fighting against the leadership of the proletariat and its line. What the Guardian most opposes is the idea that any one line should lead all the revolutionary forces, and that all other incorrect lines should be struggled against ruthlessly and defeated–this it calls “all struggle and no unity” and “uncomradely criticism.” In reality, it just means not giving a damn. It talks a lot about the leadership of the working class, but in fact opposes with all its heart real leadership, and above all upholds the freedom of everyone to “do their own thing” regardless of the needs of the proletariat.

But the contradiction is not between “independence” in the abstract and “hegemony” in the abstract. In the U.S. today, the bourgeoisie has hegemony, and whoever talks about “independence” without advancing the struggle against the bourgeoisie is a phony or worse.

Only the hegemony of the proletariat’s line can challenge the bourgeoisie’s hegemony and lead to its overthrow. That’s why all the Guardian’s accusations of “hegemony” every time a passing truck startles them is like a thief accusing others of robbing him.

The Guardian can pretend all it wants that it has the most principled, reasonable, “Marxist,” or whatever reasons for heaping lies and slander on the RU and other genuine communists; it can whimper all it wants about how the RU “seeks hegemony” because we say now is the time for communists to unite on the basis of a correct line and programme; but the fact is that all the Guardian is doing is revealing its own desire for the hegemony of its petty bourgeois line, which comes down to defending the hegemony of the bourgeoisie.

This “Horse” Won’t Carry Any Baggage!

The Guardian’s attitude toward the proletariat is like that of a man who needs a horse. The Guardian tried hitching its wagon to the Progressive Party, to democratic reform of the imperialist system, but that proved to be a very tired and weak horse. It tried riding the student movement, but that proved to be a very rough and unstable mount.

Now, suddenly, the Guardian sees the rising working class movement and its communist organizations, sees that the working class is not just potentially the mightiest class but is actually beginning to prove it, sees the tremendous prestige and respect that the dictatorship of the working class has brought to China, and it says to itself, “What a magnificent horse! What a powerful horse! No other horse could beat this horse! I bet I could ride it a long way.”

All the Guardian thinks about is how the horse can move it forward–not how it can help move forward the horse. But the fact is it doesn’t know anything about horses at all. And the man better find himself some other kind of transportation because the horse doesn’t intend to carry any baggage at all.