Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Socialist Union of Baltimore

The Party Building Question

Published: June 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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There is a rumbling in the working class in the U. S. Workers, angry about the spiraling cost of living, are striking to demand enough money and benefits for a decent life. They are fed up with sell-out union leadership. National minority and women workers are demanding an end to discrimination. More workers are becoming aware of corruption in government and the collusion between government and big business. They are picketing, fighting discrimination, unionizing, demonstrating, organizing rank and file and national minority caucuses, electing new leadership to the unions ... they are on the move.

But this movement in the working class needs direction. It is generally unorganized and spontaneous. It is caught up in the never ending battle for reforms to meet the day-to-day needs of the class. Most important – the working class lacks a program to take the struggle beyond the treadmill of reforms. It does not see the means to end its oppression once and for all.

This is why we need a communist party. To organize the working class struggle, to move the class struggle forward, to show the real aims of the class we must have a communist party. Without such a party the working class movement cannot, go beyond simple trade unionism and reform. The proletariat cannot develop socialist ideology spontaneously.

... socialist consciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without and not something that arose within it spontaneously ... the task of (the party) is to imbue the proletariat with the consciousness of its position and the consciousness of its tasks. There would be no. need for this if consciousness arose of itself from class struggle. – Lenin quoting Kautsky, What is to be Done, (Peking)

The working class will remain dominated by bourgeois ideology without the leadership of the communist party. This is due to the ability of the bourgeoisie to spread its ideology thru its control of TV, radio, newspapers, church, school, etc. The proletariat will not spontaneously develop socialist ideology – but it will grasp it when it is presented in an organized manner because it speaks to both the day-to-day and long term needs of the class.

As Lenin puts it, “the only choice is either the bourgeois or the socialist ideology, there is no middle course.... and in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or above-class ideology.” WITBD, pg. 48 (Peking) Without a strong united party guided by socialist ideology, the science of Marxism-Leninism, we will not be able to defeat the capitalists and achieve the socialist revolution. The building of this party is thus the central task of all communists.

What is a communist party? It is the most highly organized, advanced detachment (part of)”the working class. It contains the most class conscious, most dedicated elements of the proletariat (and its allies among other classes and groups in society) who recognize that the party guided “by Marxist-Leninist theory is the only force that can organize and lead the exploited masses to freedom. So that the party will remain strong and united, membership is strictly limited to those most dedicated elements.

The communist party is the vanguard of the proletariat. It leads the working class and exploited masses to revolution, guiding them in strategy and tactics, all the while being part of the class and linked to the masses. It is not only the instrument for achieving the dictatorship of the proletariat, but it also consolidates that dictatorship after the revolution.

The party adheres to democratic centralism and unity of will. After there has been a democratic discussion on an issue and a decision has been reached, everybody in the party abides by that decision whether they agree with it or not. Only with unity of will can the party remain strong. Lower organizations must submit to higher central organizations. The whole body is the highest form of authority. All members are required to follow party discipline and rules. Factions are not allowed and opportunist elements (those interested in using the party for their own personal gain) are purged – as they weaken the party.

Described above are the basic characteristics of the party that everyone in the anti-revisionist movement would agree with. But what differentiates our understanding from that of the dogmatists is clarity on what this means in terms of the concrete tasks of party-building in the U. S. today. To build a genuine communist party our movement must be 1) based in the proletariat, 2) multinational, and 3) guided by revolutionary theory.

First, our party must have its main strength and base of support in the proletariat. Its membership must consist primarily of the advanced elements of the working class, the only class that is capable of bringing about a socialist revolution.

The proletariat is the only class which has as its chief and fundamental concern the overthrow of monopoly capitalism, the economic system which exploits the proletariat as a class. It is for this reason that the proletariat provides the chief foundation of our party. – PWOC, Speech to the Forum on Party Building, pg. 4.

Second, the party must be multi-national. The working class itself is multi-national and our party must reflect that. In addition, to build the class unity needed to triumph over the bourgeoisie, the party, as the vanguard of the working class, must pay special attention to the recruitment of national minorities and the development of minority leadership. A party that is predominantly white or national minority will only encourage white racism (the main cause of division in the working class) and national chauvinism. Further, we need to draw the advanced elements of the working class into the party. National minority workers make up a large percentage of these advanced elements, due to their dual oppression and exploitation. Thus it is the national minority workers who have the highest potential in this period for embracing the cause of socialism.

Third, our party must be guided by revolutionary theory, the concrete application of Marxism-Leninism to the problems of strategy and tactics in leading the class struggle forward. Revolutionary theory is not reciting, reviewing and re-reading the classics – it is applying and learning from the classics as we develop an analysis based on our particular historical condition. Revolutionary theory is also not looking only at the particularities of the situation – and rejecting or revising the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism when convenient. It is applying the basic tenets to understand, analyze and act on the particular situation. It is using the science of Marxism-Leninism as a guide to action.

To sum up, the party is the vanguard of the proletariat – the most highly organized, advanced detachment of the class whose goal is to achieve socialism. It has democratic centralism and unity of will. It must be proletarian, multi-national and guided by revolutionary theory. The working class will not achieve socialist revolution without the leadership of the party. Hence, the central task for Marxist-Leninists today is to build the foundation for forming such a communist party.


Such a communist party does not now exist in the U.S. The “Communist Party” USA long ago fell into revisionism. While they still call themselves the Communist Party, they have rejected several of the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism both in theory and in practice.

Primarily, the CPUSA practices class collaboration instead of class struggle. The whole ideology of Marxism is founded on the nature, inevitability and antagonism of class struggle under capitalism. All of history confirms this view yet these revisionists have called on the workers to “work things out peacefully” with the imperialists. They say that the future no longer lies in socialist revolution but in a series of “radical reforms” (pressed out of the capitalists by electoral lobbying) thru which socialism can evolve peacefully and legally. In the CPUSA’s own words:

Of course, we advocate social change by peaceful means thru political institutions and people’s organizations within the American constitutional framework. – New Program of the CPUSA, May 1970, pg.92

Furthermore, the CPUSA has rejected the Marxist-Leninist theory of the nature of the state. They view the capitalist state apparatus in the U.S. as something which must be “overhauled” rather than destroyed. They do not mention the necessity of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, but instead talk about a multi-party state under socialism.

In addition, the CPUSA is not organized along the lines of a Marxist-Leninist party. Membership is not based on strict criteria, but rather the party is open to almost all those who want to join. The party is not guided by revolutionary theory. In fact, the party does very little educational work with its cadre to develop their skills in the science of Marxism-Leninism. Most importantly, the party does not practice democratic centralism. They even publicly admitted such in Gus Hall’s pamphlet “Lame Duck”, where they criticize party cadre for campaigning for McGovern and not Hall in the 1972 presidential election.

Finally, the CPUSA is not a party of the working class. Despite their history of leadership of working class struggles in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the CPUSA today does not have a base in the proletariat nor does it provide leadership to any working class struggles. Most often the party cadre tail after the masses or even liberal congressmen and trade union bureaucrats in the mass struggle. One clear example of this was the party’s role in the civil rights movement. Instead of providing working class leadership, they followed after the black petty bourgeoisie ... in a liberal and patronizing manner.

If the CPUSA is not the true Marxist-Leninist party, what about the more recently formed “Maoist” parties (chief among them being the RCP, the CPUSA-M-L and the CLP)? Like ourselves, these organizations have rejected the revisionism of the CPUSA and recognized the need for a party of the Leninist type to lead the proletarian revolution and build socialism in the U.S. But they have failed in their efforts to build such a party because they try to rigidly apply the lessons of the Russian and Chinese revolutions to the different objective conditions of the U.S. Since they use Marxism-Leninism as a dogma rather than a science, we refer to them as the dogmatist trend.

Dogmatism, the failure to apply the science of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions to develop revolutionary theory, has led to many errors on the part of the anti-revisionist left. Chief among these has been a failure to identify the tasks of party building in this period. These organizations base their actions on what they imagine or wish conditions to be. Thus OL can make the statement that “the masses are ready for revolution” (The Call, April 4, 1977) and Workers’ Viewpoint Organization can say in their newspaper that “the state of fusion between the communist movement and the workers’ movement is at the highest level ever.” (April 1977.)

The dogmatists fail to understand both the historical development and the current state of the communist and workers movements in the U. S. Thus they cannot directly analyze the nature of the contradiction between the two and do not understand what is necessary to resolve that contradiction.

Further, their dogmatism leads them to isolate themselves from the masses of workers because they fail to see the connection between the daily lives and struggles of the masses and the ultimate goal of the working class – socialism. They come to view participation in any reform struggle as selling out, middle forces as the same as the reactionaries and anyone who does not totally agree with them as the enemy. For the politics of united front action, the dogmatists substitute the politics of revolutionary phrase-making.

The practice of both the Revolutionary Communist Party and the October League in the trade unions reflects this sectarian approach. Instead of working to build a broad left/center alliance that unites communists with the masses of workers, our ultra-leftists draw a handful of advanced workers into forums based on a program that fairly bristles with revolutionary-sounding phrases and politically advanced demands, but cannot possibly serve as a rallying point for struggle for the broader ranks. – The Organizer, August-Sept. 1976

On the questions of the struggles of national minorities and the fight against white racism, dogmatism has led to both sectarianism and opportunism. OL, RCP and CLP have all “studied” the Afro-American national question and have all arrived at conclusions which are at odds with the objective conditions of black people in the U.S. today. But what is more crucial is that these positions have led the dogmatists to liquidate the fight against white racism or to relegate the struggle to one of secondary importance.

The RCP in its practice has failed to take up the fight against white racism bowing to the racism of white workers. Its position against busing illustrates this opportunist position. OL on the other hand has reduced the struggle against racism to the recruiting of blacks to their organization and to making slogans around the “right to self-determination.” While they have correctly identified that black workers are more likely to be advanced, they have failed to see that this makes all the more important the fight against white racism. It is precisely this racism which is holding back many white workers and keeping them from following the leadership of advanced black workers.

This sectarian and opportunist practice of the dogmatist trend has prevented them from integrating with the proletariat or being able to provide any leadership to the class. Yet many of these organizations have seen fit to declare themselves ready to form the vanguard party. These parties are “vanguard” in name only. They are certainly not the kind of party we need to build.


In order to understand clearly the tasks which confront us it is necessary to assess the current state of both the communist movement and the workers movement and, to analyze the historical developments which have created the current situation.

The U. S. has not always been without a Marxist-Leninist party. In the late 1920’s and 1930’s the CPUSA, although not without certain glaring weaknesses, did represent such a vanguard party. It was able to provide some leadership and exert considerable influence within the workers movement (particularly within the CIO and among the unemployed) and it was able to recruit many of the advanced elements of the class to communism.

But even during this period of growth and development the communist party exhibited a very low level of theoretical development among its cadre. Not only was there a failure to study and understand the theoretical works of Marx, Engels and Lenin and the lessons of the Russian revolution, but more importantly there was an almost complete failure to apply the science of dialectical materialism to the concrete conditions of the U.S. This led to two trends within the party – those who relied on rote application of the Russian experience (forerunners of our modern dogmatists) and those who use the specifics of the U.S. situation to reject the theoretical developments of Marx and Lenin (the revisionists).

Although this theoretical underdevelopment retarded the work of the party during the depression, it was not until the World War II period, with the triumph of the revisionist trend (Browder) that the communist movement in the U.S. began to pay the full price for its lack of theory. It is clear that the relatively easy triumph of Browderism and the continued domination of the CP by revisionism even after Browder’s expulsion was the result of theoretical backwardness. But it is also true that those who rejected revisionism suffered from the same weakness, only their error was not to reject or revise Marxism-Leninism, but to apply it mechanically. So it was that the Provisional Organizing Committee and later the Progressive Labor Movement, both anti-revisionist splits from the CP followed the path of dogmatism to nowhere.

Both revisionism and dogmatism in the communist movement in the U.S. helped lay the basis for the capitalist offensive against the left and the workers’ movement in general following the Second World War. But a second factor of particular importance in the U. S. and Western Europe was the temporary stabilization of monopoly capitalism.

The unique conditions brought about by the Great Depression and WW II (the tremendous destruction of capital goods, the consolidation of monopolies, the emergence of the U.S. as the dominant capitalist power, the expansion of imperialism in underdeveloped nations) resulted in a 30 year period of relative prosperity in the advanced capitalist countries. During this period the living standard of the working class rose and some concessions were rested from the capitalists. This was made possible by the tremendous profits from rebuilding Europe and from the expansion in underdeveloped countries, which offset declining profit rates in the U.S.

The temporary stability had the effect of reducing the militancy and class consciousness of the workers’ movement. It also laid the base for the up and coming trade union bureaucrats in the new industrial unions of the CIO. By the mid-1950’s they had so consolidated their position that they were able to lead the CIO back into a merger with the AF of L, whose policies of bureaucratic control and class collaboration had led to the original split.

Given these conditions, the revisionism of the CPUSA and the period of stability, of capitalism, it is not hard to understand the success of the ruling class attack on the left in the late forties and early fifties. The strategic aim of that attack was to break up the left/center alliance within the labor movement. This was necessary to pave the way for the Cold War.

There were other factors which undoubtedly contributed to the period of reaction within the workers’ movement. Among these, we should investigate the effect of the influx of rural workers into the industrial proletariat during and after WW II and the role of the expansion of the mass media (particularly TV) on the ability of the bourgeoisie to propagate its ideology and dull the senses of the working class.

The effect of all these factors was to completely separate the workers’ movement from the communist movement – in fact to develop an overriding anti-communism among the workers and to all but wipe out the communist movement in the U.S.

It is in the light of these historical developments that we must view the revival of the left movement during the 1960’s. Out of the civil rights, anti-war and student movements of this period developed what, was known as the New Left. It was “new” in the sense that it had no historical or theoretical links to the left of the 30’s. However, even during its early development the New Left was influenced by “Marxist” intellectuals (Marcuse, Mills, W.A. Williams). Increasingly the New Left turned to Marxism, but not without inheriting the historical problem of Marxism in the U.S. – namely theoretical weaknesses. Thus both revisionist trends (such as the “new working class” theorists, NAM and the mass party people) and the dogmatists find their roots in problems of the past – problems of the understanding and application of Marxist-Leninist theory.

Accompanying the rebirth of Marxism among the intellectuals and student left was an upsurge in the workers’ movement. Starting in the middle and late 1960’s there was increasing strike activity (among organized workers) and efforts at organizing the unorganized (government workers, hospital workers, farmworkers, clothing and textile workers, electrical workers). Wildcat strikes increased (in 1966, 3676 of all strikes were wildcats) and there was an upsurge in rank and file activity within the unions. This activity took various forms – national minority caucuses (particularly in Auto and Steel), industrywide single issue organizations (such as Miners for Democracy and the Black Lung Assn.) and local caucuses around union elections.

This rank and file activity was mostly a response to the end of the period of capitalist prosperity, but it also owed a great deal to the influence of the civil rights movement among black workers and other minorities. While much of this activity was spontaneous and short-lived, it indicated a basic dissatisfaction with the undemocratic, class collaborationist and racist nature of the trade union leadership.

In addition, many workers were involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements, even if only peripherally. They also participated in consumer movements and community organizations which developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

What is important to note about these two developments (the revival of Marxism within the student left and the resurgence of the workers’ movement) is that they took place independent of each other. Each arose under different conditions, and despite the claims of some of the dogmatists, they have remained separated.

What then is the current state of the communist and workers movements? We can see clearly that there has been a spontaneous resurgence of the workers’ movement. This movement has a low level class consciousness in that there is a basic understanding of the separation of society into the bosses vs. the workers (or the rich vs. poor and working people). Accompanying this is a consciousness that the rich control the government and use it to further their own interests. This resurgence provides the base of mass struggle which brings forward the most advanced elements of the working class – the people who will be the cadre of any true communist party.

On the other hand, many of the serious forces within the communist movement have begun to see the need to integrate themselves with the working class. They have, in many instances, taken up the study of Marxism-Leninism. And they have rejected the revisionism of the CPUSA. But the anti-revisionist communist movement continues to face serious problems which have held it back from building towards a genuine communist party.

Principal among these is the contradiction between the science of dialectical materialism and the dogmatist approach to theory. Dogmatism is the main error within the anti-revisionist movement. How can we forge unity with the working class movement and build a party unless we can concretely and dialectically analyze, not only the general period we are in and what the main tasks are, but also the objective conditions of the class in order to develop a concrete program to lead the class struggle forward? There is no blueprint – we must do the work ourselves, using the science of Marx and Lenin. Using Marxism-Leninism as a dogma renders it meaningless.

There are other weaknesses in our young communist movement. Though we are beginning to see the need to concentrate in the proletariat – our movement is still petty bourgeois in character. We have not yet drawn many advanced workers to Marxism-Leninism.

Also, the level of multi-national unity is very low. Most communist organizations are either predominantly white or predominantly national minority. Among the white Marxist-Leninists there has been no consistent understanding of the centrality of the struggle against white racism. Until this happens unity cannot be forged, and racism and nationalism will be fostered.

Last, the communist movement in the U.S. is still plagued with the problem of low theoretical development. Within the anti-revisionist, anti-dogmatist left there is also a tendency towards empiricism – that is, down-playing the role of theory. Much of this has been characterized by an over dependence on local, practical experience. Like dogmatism, empiricism results from a failure to understand and use the science of Marxism-Leninism.


As we have already noted, there exists today, an upsurge in the low level class conscious movement that involves large sectors of the working class. This is a necessary pre-condition for party-building since it is the mass struggle which brings forth and develops the most advanced elements of the working class. The fact that the level of consciousness of the workers’ movement has remained low is attributable to the lack of communist leadership. Thus it is that we conclude that the principal task of communists in this period is to build towards a communist party – the only organization which can provide this type of leadership to the working class movement.

But, how do we proceed? To begin we must be able to answer the question: what is the principal contradiction within the party-building process which holds back the development of that process? It is precisely our understanding of this contradiction which most clearly differentiates our approach from that of the dogmatist trend.

Those who propose that all that is needed to form a new communist party is to reach a certain degree of unity on this and that question and perhaps to recruit a few workers (many have argued that even that is unnecessary) have either failed to understand the nature of the vanguard party or failed to study the history of the communist movement in the U.S.

The communist party is the vanguard of the working class. A communist movement that is separated from the working class can hardly be the vanguard of that class. The communist movement cannot become that vanguard simply by declaring itself so. It is true that unity among Marxist-Leninists is crucial to forming the communist party, but that unity in itself is not sufficient. More important, that unity must be forged around our strategy which has been tested in practice in the questions facing our movement, particularly the need to fuse ourselves with the working class. Real unity cannot be achieved by exchanging theoretical position papers arrived at in discussion groups – we must achieve a deeper unity. Uniting Marxist-Leninists is one of the things we must do in order to form a party – it is not the main thing.

At first socialism and the working class movement existed separately in all the European countries. The workers struggled against the capitalists, they organized strikes and unions, while the socialists stood aside from the working class movement, formulated doctrines criticizing the contemporary capitalist, bourgeois system of society and demanding its replacement by another system, the higher, socialist system. The separation of the working class movement and socialism gave rise to weaknesses and underdevelopment in each: the theories of the socialists unfused with the workers’ struggle remained nothing more than Utopias, good wishes that had no effect on real life; the working class movement remained petty, fragmented and did not acquire political significance, was not enlightened by the advanced science of its time. For this reason we see in all European countries a constantly growing urge to fuse socialism with the working class movement in a single Social-Democratic movement. When this fusion takes place the class struggle of the workers becomes the conscious struggle of the proletariat to emancipate itself from exploitation by the propertied classes, it is evolved into the higher form of the socialist workers movement – the independent working class Social-Democratic party. (emphasis in original) – Lenin, from Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy pg. 257, Vol. IV, Lenin’s Collected Works.

Clearly, our situation closely resembles the one which Lenin is describing. Communism has remained separated from the workers movement – it has had “no effect on real life.” And the workers movement has therefore been dominated by bourgeois ideology (particularly class collaboration and white chauvinism), and workers’ struggles have suffered from reformism and spontaneity.

The principal contradiction in the party-building process at this time is between communism and the workers movement. To resolve this contradiction we must fuse communism with the workers movement. This fusion, then is the central task of communists in this period.


There are four interrelated aspects of the task of fusing communism and the workers’ movement. It is important to emphasize that these are not stages, they are aspects of achieving one central task. None of these aspects of our work can occur in isolation from each other.

We are identifying the four aspects of fusion as: 1) recruiting the advanced workers to communism; 2) building the communist current; 3) developing workers’ communism; and 4) proletarianizing our cadre.

We must recruit advanced workers to communism. To fuse communism and the workers’ movement we must bring a significant number of advanced workers to see that Marxism-Leninism is the key to moving the class struggle forward and to embrace the struggle for socialism as their own.

We must build a communist current in the working class. A communist current exists when a significant number of workers follow our leadership as open communists and are open to our view on a number of questions facing the working class.

We must develop workers’ communism. This means applying Marxism-Leninism to the concrete historical conditions to develop revolutionary theory – the program, strategy and tactics to move the class forward. This aspect is key to all others, for without that revolutionary theory advanced workers will not be recruited nor will masses of workers follow our leadership.

We must proletarianize our cadre. Our cadre must remold their world outlook to that of the working class. There are three aspects of proletarianization: to be integrated into the working class, to learn to apply the science of Marxism-Leninism (dialectical materialism), and to participate in the class struggle. Without proletarianization of our cadre, we will not be able to accomplish any of the other tasks.

Within the process of fusion, different of these aspects will be primary according to the development of the organization and the communist movement as a whole. In the early period of SUB, proletarianization was primary, whereas in the current period, recruitment of advanced workers has become primary and will remain so until we have grown and developed to be able to give real leadership to the workers’ movement.


To recruit the advanced workers we must first address the question: where are the most advanced sectors of the class? Historically, advanced workers are concentrated in the industrial proletariat. This is where production is most highly socialized, providing the greatest material base for class (and thus socialist) consciousness. Industrial workers learn the need for unity and organization thru their daily experience in the factory. They can see the nature of capitalism and the inevitability of class struggle most clearly. Lenin says:

This position of the factory worker in the general system of capitalist relations makes him the sole fighter for the emancipation of the working class, for only the higher stage of the development of capitalism, large scale machine industry, creates the material conditions and the social forces necessary for this struggle. – Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. I, pg. 131-132

He further says that communists:

must concentrate (their) activities on the industrial proletariat, who are most susceptible to Social Democratic ideas, most developed intellectually and politically, and most important by virtue of their numbers and concentration in the country’s large political centers. The creation of a durable revolutionary organization among the factory, urban workers is therefore the first and most urgent task confronting Social-Democracy, one from which it would be highly unwise to let ourselves be diverted at the present time. – Lenin, From V.I. Lenin on Building the Bolshevik Party, Liberator Press, 1976, pg.38

To recruit advanced workers, therefore, we must concentrate our forces primarily in the industrial proletariat.

However, in the past twenty years, other sectors of the working class have become increasingly socialized and organized. These sectors include lower level hospital and many other service workers, for example, sanitation workers, transit drivers, postal workers. We should also be looking to these sectors of the class for advanced workers, particularly where there is a history of trade union organization.

In addition, today we are faced with the situation that many of the most able (Lenin’s “most developed intellectually”) sons and daughters of the working class people now go to college and then most often into non-industrial sectors of the class. In Lenin’s time – these people were often the most advanced elements within the industrial proletariat. We need to examine further the consequences of this development.

Next, we must ask: who are the advanced workers? The advanced workers are those elements in the forefront of the class struggle. They are those who seek to organize the class and show initiative in the class struggle. They are not necessarily the most militant talkers – they are those most actively involved in class struggle.

It is important to understand that we use the term advanced worker as a relative term – these workers are advanced relative to the rest of the class. In this period many advanced workers will not have a high level of class consciousness and they may even be initially anti-communist.

There are four key indicators (these are not rigid criteria) of advanced workers. First, advanced workers are fighters for the class. They show initiative in the class struggle (as opposed to the middle forces who will follow when others lead) and see the need to organize others. Second, they are open to new ideas and are willing to learn and study. This does not mean they are eager to “study, study, study” as Lenin puts it, but rather, that they are the type of person who is curious and receptive to the ideas of others. Third, they have a genuine concern for the masses. And, fourth, they have a basic understanding of classes, a “them vs. us” consciousness.

In addition, there are several other qualities, which may not be initially present in many advanced workers, but which must be developed in the process of becoming a communist. They are: an openness to socialism; being respected by the masses; an understanding of and willingness to struggle against white racism (and narrow nationalism); and a consciousness about sexism and the oppression of women. Workers who have serious blocks against development in any of these areas are probably not advanced.

When we talk about the recruitment of advanced workers, we are actually looking at two distinct, although interrelated processes. One is the recruitment of workers to see that socialism is the long term goal of the working class and to taking up the struggle for socialism as their own. The other is the actual development of these recruits as communist cadre. In the following discussion, we use the word recruitment to refer to the first process, and Development, to the second.

How are workers recruited to communism? Thru seeing the leadership that communists and communist ideology provides for the class struggle. And thru seeing the correctness of communist analysis of capitalism and the necessity of a socialist revolution. The process of recruitment of advanced workers thus has two aspects – the active, or class struggle aspect, and the intellectual, or agitation and propaganda aspect. During any period of development of the communist movement, one of these two aspects will be primary, but both aspects are necessary.

In the process of development of advanced workers into communist cadre, although the same basic contradiction exists, propaganda is almost always primary, except under extra-ordinary circumstances. This is because development of socialist consciousness does not evolve spontaneously out of the class struggle, But again, both aspects are necessary – communist cadre are leaders in the class struggle, not just intellectual critics of society.

In the current period of the development of the communist movement, agitation and propaganda are the primary ways in which we recruit advanced workers. This is because of the lack of a developed communist current through which we could provide the leadership of the class struggle. Without the close ties to the class which will come from recruiting some advanced workers, without more development of our revolutionary theory (workers’ communism), and without more cadre, we cannot build that communist current and provide that leadership to the class struggle.

This does not mean that we view the process as broken down into stages. We understand the necessity of participating in the class struggle (and providing some leadership where possible) to demonstrate to the advanced workers the role of communists as class fighters and their potential to lead the struggle to a higher level. But, based on the objective conditions of our movement we must view the role of propaganda as primary.

How do we use agitation and propaganda to recruit workers to communism? Agitation is generally done orally around a single idea that can be grasped by the masses of workers. Its main purpose is to stir up and organize. Propaganda is generally written and draws connections between many ideas or goes into the complexities of a single issue. It is grasped by relatively few workers (the most advanced), its aim being to educate and raise consciousness. Both agitation and propaganda must be done together with day-to-day agitation laying the groundwork for further development thru propaganda.

Communist agitation and propaganda is a process of developing a person from seeing only the concrete problems that face them to seeing these problems in a class context and understanding that only a socialist revolution can provide the solution to these problems. It is a process of taking a person from the lower (their concrete individual perspective) to the higher (a class, thus socialist, perspective).

To do this we must know the person we are trying to develop. We must do, as comrade Lenin says, “a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions” and use the theory of “one lock, one key.” This concept means learning about each individuals life experiences and strengths and weaknesses to guide us in how to teach them about Marxism-Leninism. It means doing systematic investigation “to discover and shed light on key issues, experiences, or forms of oppression in a person’s life which once understood from a Marxist viewpoint will unlock in them the desire to learn about Marxism-Leninism in order to fight against capitalism and build for socialism.” (From Los Angeles work group)

In doing communist agitation and propaganda, we must go from the shallower to the deeper. If we begin by dealing with a subject that is totally unfamiliar to the person or too complex for them to grasp at that time – they will lose interest. We must start by working with the issues that the worker has direct involvement or interest in, and then develop them to a higher level.

When using propaganda, we should prepare ourselves before giving it. We must read it and become thoroughly familiar with it and analyze if it is at the right level for the particular individual. After it is given to an advanced contact, we must follow up in order to be effective. Did the person read it? What did they agree or disagree with? What questions were there? This feed-back is necessary if we are going to continue to develop our advanced contacts.

In conducting agitation among the workers on their immediate economic demands, the Social Democrats inseparably link this with agitation on the immediate political needs, the distress and the demands of the working class, agitation against police tyranny, manifested in every strike, in every conflict between workers and capitalists, agitation against the restrictions of rights of workers as Russian citizens in general and as the class suffering the worst oppression in particular, agitation against every prominent representative and flunky of absolutism who comes into direct contact with the workers and who clearly reveals to the working class its condition of political slavery....Both economic and political agitation are equally necessary to develop the class consciousness ’of the proletariat; both economic and political agitation are equally necessary for guiding the class struggle of the Russian workers, because every class struggle is a political struggle. – Lenin, from V.I. Lenin on Building the Bolshevik Party, Liberator Press, 1976, page 40.

We must be particularly aware that the aim of communist agitation and propaganda is to develop workers consciousness to a higher level – to move them from the “economic” struggle against their own capitalist or in their trade union to the “political” struggle of the working class against the capitalist class. And we must be constantly showing that the only way to end capitalist oppression, once and for all, is thru the overthrow of the capitalist state and the building of socialism.

If we fail to deal with the day-to-day needs and struggles of the workers, our propaganda will be irrelevant to them. If we fail to draw the connections between those day-to-day economic struggles and the class or political struggle, we will make the error of reformism, of taking the revolutionary essence out of Marxism.

Another form of propaganda, which is used primarily to develop advanced workers into communist cadre, is the study circle or discussion group. This form of collective propaganda is more consistent and systematic than individual agitation and propaganda. It is particularly important because, thru it, advanced workers will come into contact with other workers who are following the path to socialism. This helps to break down the fear of isolation which many workers experience in the process of becoming communists.

What then is the role of the class struggle in the recruitment and development of advanced workers? First, it is thru the class struggle that workers develop the elementary class consciousness which makes them advanced. The worker’s initial, practical understanding of the nature of society comes from his or her daily clashes with the capitalists and their lieutenants in the government and trade union bureaucracy. The class struggle thus provides the foundation on which a worker’s socialist consciousness is built.

Second, it is thru their participation in the class struggle that communists show that they are able to lead the class forward to the socialist revolution. This is crucial to many advanced workers, who are not willing to commit themselves unless they see that socialism does lead the struggle forward. They must see Marxism-Leninism as a practical method for battling the capitalists as well as a long range plan for victory. When communists are able to provide consistent and open leadership to the class struggle and are able to show that it is because they are communists that they are leading the struggle – at that point the advanced workers will actively seek us out in order that they too may become communists.

Third, participation in the class struggle is part of the process in which advanced workers develop into communist cadre. Participation in the class struggle is a necessary vehicle for furthering advanced workers understanding about capitalism. This practical knowledge of the class struggle constantly deepens a worker’s (or for that matter, any cadre’s) consciousness – practice drives home the message of our propaganda.

In addition, it is thru the class struggle that advanced workers learn the power of the class and the relationship of the struggles of all workers. These are lessons which clearly cannot be “learned– thru study. Finally, workers further develop as leaders in the class struggle. It is only among the masses that advanced workers can get the experience of applying their new found theory to solving the problems of the class.

It follows directly from our understanding of the role of class struggle in the recruitment and development of advanced workers that there exists a dialectical relationship between that process and building the communist current. These two areas of our work are interrelated – one cannot be accomplished to any great degree without the development of the other. How can we drive deep roots into the workers’ movement and give open communist leadership to a significant number of workers unless we have won over the advanced workers to participate in that process? And how can we win over the advanced workers in substantial numbers unless we participate in the mass workers’ movement and demonstrate the value of Marxism-Leninism in moving the class struggle forward?

In the 1890’s in Russia, Lenin viewed these two processes as stages. At first, the Russian Social Democrats did intensive propaganda with small numbers of workers, confining themselves to the formation of numerous study circles. At this time (late 1890’s and early 1890’s) they did no work in the mass movement. Not until the winter of 1891-92 did the Social Democrats begin to provide leadership in the mass struggle.

Lenin and his comrades viewed these two tasks as stages due to their concrete conditions. Before the famine and strikes of 1891-92 there was no significant mass movement. In addition, due to the autocratic government they were forced into conditions of secrecy. It was necessary to consolidate a number of advanced workers to be ready for the upsurge among the masses. They had to achieve a certain strength just to survive. Once there was an upsurge in the mass struggle, they immediately started to establish firm links with this workers’ movement, regarding fusion as their key task. They clearly saw the need to demonstrate to the advanced workers their ability to lead that struggle and turn the movement into one based on class struggle.

Conditions in the U.S. today are different from those in Czarist Russia. First, the U.S. is a bourgeois democracy, which means that, to a certain extent, we can carry on work in the mass movement without fear of prison or exile. Second, the mass workers’ movement in the U.S. is much more developed than in Russia before 1891. There exists a broad movement which is rising and developing for us to link up with – something the Russian Social-Democrats” did not have.

A third factor which points to the necessity of building the communist current while we are recruiting-advanced workers is the domination of bourgeois ideology over the workers’ movement. To recruit significant numbers of advanced workers, we cannot just illuminate on the truth (as was sufficient in Lenin’s day), but rather we need to build a communist current to struggle against bourgeois ideology within the workers’ movement.

Finally, we face a situation where the working class has been thoroughly saturated with the poison of anti-communism. While advanced workers can overcome this, they face the possibility of isolation from the co-workers and friends if they become communists. This holds back many advanced workers – and creates the danger that those who we do recruit, will be recruited out of the class. Only if there is a communist current will they not feel isolated.

Thus the recruitment of advanced workers and the building of a communist current must take place simultaneously.

The contradiction between recruiting advanced workers vs building the communist current is a particularity of the broader contradiction of mass vs cadre. Different aspects of this contradiction are necessarily primary depending on the concrete conditions, until the contradiction is resolved (this will only be under socialism). At this point in SU3*s (and most other communist organizations) history, recruiting advanced workers is primary because recruiting some advanced workers is the key to beginning to build the communist current.

To sum up, to bring advanced workers to communism, we must concentrate our forces in the industrial proletariat. The main ways to recruit and develop advanced workers are: 1) thru communist agitation and propaganda; and 2) thru their participation in the class struggle. Last, we can only develop significant numbers of advanced workers by simultaneously building the communist current.


A communist current exists when a significant number of workers will follow the leadership of open communists and are open to our views on a number of questions which face the working class. It is a mass phenomenon – that is, masses of workers, although not necessarily a majority, are involved. When we have built the communist current these workers will be committed to the inevitability of class struggle under capitalism. Proletarian organizations, such as rank and file caucuses and community organizations, will be guided by a scientific approach. Our leadership as communists will be recognized and respected and we will be able to do open agitation around communist issues. Although we aim at building a communist current nationwide, we can speak of building it in particular areas, say for example, in a factory or in a city.

The communist current is a fully developed united front. It is a united front around building a class struggle (as opposed to class collaborationist) approach within the workers’ movement. This is the central strategic objective of communists in the workers’ movement during this period.

Before the revolution in Russia, Lenin identified the two aspects of the struggle as: democratic and socialist. The struggle for democratic rights against autocracy was crucial to organizing the working class for revolution. Without freedom of the press, assembly, etc. communists could not openly organize within the mass movement. The principal contradiction holding back the workers’ movement was between Czarist autocracy and bourgeois democracy. The tasks of communists were to build for socialism and to build a united front to achieve bourgeois democracy.

In Vietnam, the struggle also had two interrelated goals: 1) national liberation and 2)socialism. The Vietnamese saw that without national liberation they could not achieve socialism. While the Vietnamese Workers Party fought for socialism it also built a united front aimed at national liberation.

Our struggle is different – it is neither a struggle for national liberation nor one for bourgeois democracy. What is the principal force holding back the development of the workers’ movement into a revolutionary movement? It is not the Czarist autocracy nor foreign imperialists – it is the complete domination of the workers’ movement by bourgeois ideology. This is why the strategic objective of the communist current is winning the workers’ movement over to proletarian ideology – the approach of class struggle.

As communists in the U. S. today, our work is to lead the proletariat towards its two goals: 1) class struggle, political and economic action (which moves the class forward by combating the bourgeois ideology of class collaboration) and 2) socialism (the complete destruction of the capitalist system).

To win the masses over to the class struggle approach, we must build a united front of all those honest forces who can be brought to see their true class interests as distinct from and in opposition to the capitalists. Many of these forces will not see the need for the overthrow of capitalism – that is, they will not join us in the struggle for socialism at this point. But they will join us in building a workers’ movement which fights for the real immediate interests of the working class.

As communists we must be in the vanguard of the struggle to forge the workers’ organizations (especially the trade unions) into organizations that fight for the needs of the working class. To do this, we must build a left/center alliance – between those forces which consciously take up the class struggle (the left forces) and those which can be won to a concrete program based on the needs of the class.

As communists, we must maintain our independence and initiative but we must realize that the “right” to openly agitate for socialism is something we win thru the respect we gain in the mass struggle. Until communists have demonstrated to other left and center forces the necessity of Communist participation and leadership in the united front, these forces will be “unwilling to accept” the idea of our right to agitate openly.

Finally, as communists, we must remember that our ultimate goal is the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement with socialism. This it not something we put on the back burner, to be heated up sometime in the future. We must be constantly exposing the limits of reform and class struggle under capitalism and the necessity of carrying the struggle beyond reforms to the building of socialism. Our revolutionary process is not two distinct stages which differentiates it from the Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese experiences. Rather, our strategic objective of building the class struggle approach in the workers’ movement is part of the process of the socialist revolution in the U.S.

To build the communist current we must accomplish four interrelated tasks. We must: 1) win the masses to a class struggle approach; 2) win the advanced workers over to communist ideas (not necessarily recruiting them to communist organizations); 3) win the respect of a significant number of workers for our leadership as open communists; and 4) win freedom of agitation and open participation as communists in the mass movement. For the purpose of analysis, we will examine each of these tasks separately.

1. Winning the masses to a class struggle approach.

The first step in winning the masses to a class struggle approach is to develop a strategy for the area of work we are engaged in (trade unions, welfare struggles, consumer movements, anti-imperialist work). This strategy must be aimed at resolving the principal contradiction in the process of developing that mass struggle to a class struggle approach.

Take the trade unions. Within the trade union movement, the principal contradiction is between class struggle and class collaboration. From that understanding the PWOC has developed a strategy for building class struggle in the trade unions. The four thrusts of that strategy are: union democracy, militant unionism, class unity, and independent political action.

Once the strategy has been developed it is necessary to consolidate the most advanced workers around it. They must grasp the need for a class struggle approach and for each of the points in the strategy. Then, with the advanced workers, it will be possible to develop a concrete program of action by applying the strategy to our particular situation. We must make a systematic investigation considering our forces, those of the enemy, the issues which arouse the anger of the masses, the history of activity, etc.

In the example of the trade unions, building class unity is key to advancing the class struggle. The fight for class unity is primarily the fight against white racism because this is the principal division within the class (it affects and ties into all the other divisions). In addition, the fight against racism is fundamental to building the struggle for all other thrusts of class struggle unionism. This is because a large percentage of the more advanced workers are minority workers (particularly black, Chicano and Puerto Rican workers). Therefore the leadership of the struggle for militant unionism, union democracy and independent political action will generally come from minority workers. Racism must be overcome if white workers are going to join the struggle and follow leadership of minority workers.

But the struggle against racism cannot be based on appeals to morality. Racism is morally repugnant, but more important, it is the fundamental roadblock to building class unity and the class struggle. Advanced workers who are white must be won to take up the fight against racism on the basis of their class interest.

How does this translate into a concrete program of action? It means developing demands for the end of all forms of discrimination (based on the concrete situation within the work place or union). But it also means actions which point out how racism is used to divide and weaken the struggle, such as a protest against a foreman’s use of the racist terms “nigger” or “boy”. And it means uniting all workers behind black (and other minority) leadership in rank and file caucuses, in running for union office, etc.

Armed with a scientifically developed program of action, the communists and advanced workers (the left forces) must work to unite middle forces around it. In practice this usually consists of forming a rank and file caucus within a union or organizing a group to fight around a particular issue (health care, quality education, etc.). The group or caucus is formed around agreement with the concrete program. To sum up, to win the masses over to a class struggle approach we must first define what the class struggle approach is on that question in terms of a general program. Next, the advanced workers must be consolidated around that program. Along with the advanced workers, we develop a concrete program by applying the general program to a particular situation. Then, we must unite the middle forces around the concrete program and put it into action.

2. Winning advanced workers to communist ideas.

As part of building the communist current, it is important that we begin to convince the advanced workers of the correctness of the communist perspective. It is the initial step in recruiting advanced workers to communism, but it is also crucial to the development of the communist current in that it creates a situation where communist ideas are being put forth and defended by both communists and non-communist workers.

How do we win advanced workers over to communist ideas? One of the primary things that comes across to advanced workers about communists is that they are constantly fighting for the interests of the working class. So, we must constantly point out that it is because we are communists that we have a consistent and prolonged dedication to the fight for day-to-day as well as long term needs of the working class. Too often, we are seen as hard-working individuals. We must make the connections between our practice and our communist politics. In doing this, we can point to the historical role of communists in building the trade unions, organizing the unemployed and moving the class struggle forward.

We must not only show that our dedication stems from the fact that we are communists – but we must also point out that our ideas and analysis come from the science of Marxism-Leninism. When we share our general program to build class struggle trade unionism, for example, we must point out how this is using Marxism-Leninism. We must teach advanced workers to use the science of our class – analyze strengths and weaknesses, do sum-ups, isolate the main enemy or the main problem within a process, etc. It is important for advanced workers to see that by correctly using the science of Marxism-Leninism can we build class unity and move the class struggle forward.

To move the advanced workers forward to see the necessity of socialism – we must educate them on the limits of reforms under capitalism. This does not mean we shouldn’t fight around reforms to make concrete gains for the class – but that we can not limit ourselves to this. As we are fighting for the immediate needs we must also point out the long term goals and the cyclical nature of the fight for reforms. This is what the advanced workers really yearn to know from us.

In the process we should educate the masses on the proud history of communists in building mass workers’ movement.

3. Winning the respect of workers for our leadership as communists.

Another aspect of building the communist current is winning large numbers of workers to respecting and following communist leadership even though they may not agree with our politics. As with such advanced workers, we have to show that it is because we are communists that we have consistent, prolonged dedication to fight for the class. The key way to win the respect of the workers is by successfully building the class struggle approach. If we show that we can organize people and move the class forward, we will earn respect. In particular, if black workers see that we are able to build class unity by winning white workers over to the struggle against racism – we will have their respect. If the masses see that it is communists who move the class struggle forward and build class unity, they will respect those communists. Our ability to give leadership as communists depends on our practice in the mass movement.

4. Winning the freedom of agitation and the right to open participation as communists within the mass movement.

Since the communist current is a united front, as communists we strive to maintain our independence and initiative. This means we have the right to struggle within the united front for our positions on the strategy and program of the united front (but not that we should struggle for the united front to take up the demand for socialism). And that we have the right to do open communist agitation and propaganda within the united front. But these are rights that we must earn, not one that we mechanically hold from the start.

Now, there are several specific things we must do to win the right of open agitation, all of which are based on the premise that the masses are developing respect of our practice in building the class struggle. Our basic approach is that of our democratic right to participate.

The advanced workers must join us in defending the rights of communists to participate. We must point out that communist participation does not mean that the whole group is communist. Eventually, our right to do open agitation will be strengthened when the advanced workers turn to defend the ideas of communists as well.

In becoming open as communists it is crucial that we develop a concrete approach to red-baiting. We must combat it with both a democratic defense and by pointing out how red-baiting is used to cloud the issues.

In order to decide whether or not we can be open as communists and have won the right to open agitation, we must evaluate the forces involved. It is important that there be the confidence to preserve the left/center alliance. Many dogmatist groups often make the error of starting out as open communists “on principle” and therefore are unable to build a united front. We should not isolate ourselves; rather, our goal is to participate as communists within the united front. Our ability to preserve the left/center alliance is connected with our ability to win the masses over to a class struggle approach – because the center forces will have no reason to unite with us unless we are moving the class struggle forward.

To sum up, a communist current is a fully developed united front around building a class struggle approach within the workers’ movement. This strategic objective is part of building the socialist revolution in the U.S. To build the communist current we must win over the advanced workers to accept communist ideas and we must win the respect and following of a broader spectrum of workers for our leadership as open communists. We must win the masses over to the class struggle approach by developing a strategy and program which moves the class struggle forward. Of primary importance here is building class unity thru the struggle against white racism. Finally we will gain the right of open participation and agitation thru our demonstrated ability to move the class struggle forward and when the other forces in the united front become convinced of our contribution as communists to that struggle.


In order to fuse communism with the workers’ movement, it is necessary to have a link between that movement and our communist theory. That link is the revolutionary theory developed by applying Marxism-Leninism, which summarizes the collective experience of the communist movement, to the concrete conditions of the U.S. and of the workers’ movement today. It is only in this fashion that we can arrive at the correct strategy for moving the class struggle forward and for carrying out the socialist revolution. The body of revolutionary theory is called workers’ communism because it speaks to both felt and long term needs of the workers’ movement.

This theory, based on a detailed study of Russian history and realities, must furnish the answers to the demands of the proletariat – and if it satisfies the requirements of science, then every awakening of the protesting thought of the proletariat will inevitably guide this thought into the channels of Social Democracy. – Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. I, pg. 131-132

It is precisely the revolutionary theory of workers’ communism which will guide us in building the communist current. It is when the advanced workers see how our revolutionary theory builds the class struggle that they too will want to become communists. Revolutionary theory is the key which unlocks the door to the fusion of communism and the workers’ movement.

The scientific method of dialectical materialism is the tool with which we develop revolutionary theory. It teaches us how we combine theory (the summary of past experience) with a concrete analysis of concrete conditions to arrive at an analysis of a given process and thereby illuminate the way to move that process forward.

To develop a revolutionary theory is hard work. It is not just taking the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Stalin and rehashing their strategies. Rather, it is using the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism and applying them to help us to analyze our particular situation. We must learn from these leaders of the past – but only we can develop workers’ communism to meet our needs in the U.S. today. We use Marxism-Leninism as a guide, not as a blueprint.

Further, in developing revolutionary theory we must test it out in practice to see if it is correct. Only by uniting theory and practice can we develop a correct strategy to move the class forward. As Mao summarized in “Where Do Correct Ideas Come From,” Marxists hold that knowledge first involves perception and then a leap to conscious knowledge. Then this conscious knowledge must be tested in practice, refined again, and again tested in practice. Often many trials and errors are necessary to arrive at correct knowledge: “Practice, knowledge, again practice, again knowledge” as Mao says in “On Practice.” (Selected Works of Mao, Vol. I, pg.308) The independent Marxist-Leninist movement today is only at the beginnings of this process of developing revolutionary theory. We will also have to move from only local practice to national practice to really test the correctness of our theories.

We must test our theories in practice, but we must not develop an over-reliance on practical experience. In our efforts to guard against dogmatism we must not make the error of empiricism.

There are two kinds of incomplete knowledge, one is ready made knowledge found in books and the other is knowledge that is mostly perceptual and partial; both are one-sided.

Only an integration of the two can yield knowledge that is sound and relatively complete ... Those with book learning must develop in the direction of practice; it is only in this way that they will stop being content with books and avoid committing dogmatist errors. Those experienced in work must take up the study of theory and must read seriously; only then they will be able to systematize and synthesize their experience and raise it to the level of theory, only then they will not mistake their partial experience for universal truth and not commit empiricist errors. Dogmatism and empiricism are alike subjectivism, each originating from the opposite pole. – Mao, Selected Works, Vol. III, pg. 41-42

This struggle against the error of empiricism is especially relevant due to the localized nature of our work during the current period.

It is crucial to realize the importance of developing and being guided by a revolutionary theory. We can do years of practical work – but if it is not guided by a revolutionary strategy, it will not lead us closer to a socialist revolution. Our experience in the first years of SUB bears this out. Though we did a lot of analysis and summing up of our practical work – it was not guided by an overall strategy based in revolutionary theory. This was the root cause of many problems such as: spontaneity and economism in our mass work; inconsistent development of advanced workers; superficial methods of study; and uneven development of cadre.

The process of this paper and the use of our revolutionary theory around party-building to guide the work of our organization are examples of the development of workers’ communism. Another example is the strategy of building class struggle unionism in the trade unions.


The fourth thing we must do to fuse communism and the workers’ movement is, to proletarianize our cadre. Proletarianization is the process of remolding one’s world outlook to that of the working class. It is a protracted struggle to change our idealist outlook to a materialist one. Proletarianization is required of all cadre no matter what the class background – because our entire society is dominated by bourgeois ideology.

Proletarianization is accomplished by: 1) integration into the working class; 2) the study and application of dialectical materialism; and 3) participation in the class struggle. It is especially crucial for cadre from non-proletarian backgrounds to integrate within the class. For as Mao says:

But the intellectuals will accomplish nothing if they fail to integrate themselves with the workers and peasants. In the final analysis, the dividing line between revolutionary intellectuals and non-revolutionary or counter-revolutionary intellectuals is whether or not they are willing to integrate with the workers and peasants and actually do so. – Mao, Selected Works, Vol. II, pg. 38

Integration in the proletariat means embracing the working class struggle as your own. It means developing close ties with the workers. We must link up our personal and political lives with the working class. To do this we must minimize our differences with the class. We must shed our petty-bourgeois traits such as sophisticated language, style of dress, etc., which creates barriers to developing close ties with workers. We must understand and know their needs, thoughts, aspirations and desires.

Second, to proletarianize we must grasp and learn to apply the science of the working class – dialectical materialism. We must constantly expose bourgeois methods of thinking and acting (like individualism, defensiveness) because bourgeois ideology permeates our whole lives and even our communist organizations, while it is necessary to combat bourgeois ideology in all it forms, the struggle against racism and sexism are most crucial to the existence and development of our communist movement.

Racism not only divides the class, it has also created deep division within the communist movement. It is not enough for white cadre to see the struggle against racism as primary in an intellectual fashion. They must root out all vestiges of racism – including paternalism and liberalism – in their personal as well as political lives. This struggle must not depend on third world cadre pointing out where the remnants of racism remain. Of secondary importance is the corresponding struggle against bourgeois nationalism among third world cadre.

Although sexism has not created the division within the communist movement that racism has, it is still of the utmost importance to seriously engage in the struggle against it. Like racism, sexism is rooted in our personal and political lives and in our very organizations. “Women hold up half the sky” and without removing the roadblocks to their participation and development we cannot build the communist movement.

Lastly, to proletarianize our cadre we must be active in the class struggle. Our cadre need to be strong proletarian fighters – re-molding is an active process forged in the fire of class struggle. Our cadre must be proletarianized to carry out the difficult task of fusing the communist and workers’ movements. And only by having strong proletarian fighters as the foundation of our party will we be capable of achieving the socialist revolution.


Obviously, we cannot completely fuse the workers’ and communist movements without a communist party. But there needs to be a degree of fusion in order to form the party. When we have established the communist current in a number of cities and industrial centers, then we will be ready to form the party. Our revolutionary theory will have developed to a much higher level, and we will have formed some type of national pre-party organization. We will have recruited a substantial number of advanced workers to Marxism-Leninism and they will make up a good percentage of communists. And our cadre will have made substantial progress in their process of proletarianization.

Fusion is a process, not an event. It will continue to take place before and after the formation of a party. But the formation of a party will be a qualitative step in moving the process of fusion forward. There has to be a communist current in embryo before forming the party. A fully developed communist current will only be possible after the formation of the party. Our task today is to begin to fuse the workers’ movement and communism to lay the foundations for the formation of the Marxist-Leninist communist party that will lead the working class to final victory.