Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

Attack on China Splits RCP

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 5, February 6, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Although all the facts aren’t in, what has been made available reveals that Avakian and a slight majority of the RCP Central Committee have come out and openly denounced the Communist Party of China and have given their support to the revisionist “gang of four.” According to the Avakian clique, the decisions of the 11th Congress of the CPC which capped off the earth-shaking victory over the “gang of four” represented “a revisionist coup.”

With the views of the RCP leadership finally out in the open, a significant section of the rank and file and some of the leadership broke in open revolt. With the suppression of debate and of democratic centralism, the RCP turned into a swampland of revisionism, rife with factions, fascist beatings for those who dared challenge the leadership, and various intrigues and conspiracies. At a recent meeting in Cincinnati, Avakian sent thugs who beat opposition members with tire chains and lead pipes, putting several in the hospital.

The fact of the matter is that Avakian and his gang have always opposed Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. While trying to use China’s great prestige to hide their own careerism, petty-opportunism and revisionism, they have long been at odds with China and all the genuine Marxist-Leninist parties on the major questions facing the world revolution today. Avakian’s open support for the “gang of four” is the logical step in a career of this long-time rightist and architect of RCP’s chauvinist program.

The initial rupture in the RCP emerged around the youth question (specifically on whether to build its youth organization as a “Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade” or as a “Revolutionary Youth Brigade”–emphasis is ours.) But this debate was obviously affected by the much more central question on the international situation, Avakian’s opposition to Mao Tsetung’s “three worlds” theory and the various other implications that can be drawn from his open betrayal of socialism.

Even the split over the youth question has greater implications than just the name of the RCYB.

Avakian forced the name “communist” on a group that was anything but communist. It is not surprising that the student work should have such great bearing on the future of the RCP since from its inception, it has concentrated on recruitment of students and building the RCP with a student base in an effort to “get rich quick.”

Avakian is an unremolded petty-bourgeois “leftist” whose “communism” consists of little besides “militant” phraseology, while running the rank and file of the RCP around and around. His polemic for the name “communism” in the youth debate has the same ring as the anarchist wing of the student movement of the ’60s–days which Avakian longs for nostalgically in his paper.

Avakian wants to use the word “communism” to “shock” the “bourgeoisified” workers out of their conservatism. He equates himself with those who carried “red flags” in the mass anti-war marches of the ’60s. “The shock of their activity,” he recalls, “had a very positive effect overall on the struggle, the forces within it and on the broader American public.”


Avakian continues, “In the same way, 10 people wearing Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade T-shirts in a mass demonstration means more than having 50 people wearing YIA [Youth in Action–ed.] T-shirts or even 25 wearing RYB T-shirts…” (“On the Question of Building a Young Communist League,” RCP publication, pp. 17-18) Avakian views the revolutionary movement as a series of gimmicks and public relations stunts to impose upon the workers, because, according to him, the workers are alienated from revolutionary struggle.

The RCP has always had disdain for the masses. Rather than educating the workers and uniting the two great movements–the general workers’ movement and the movement of the oppressed nationalities, the RCP has written off the great majority of the masses.

The RCP program attempts to describe the life of the working class:

Years in a factory or some other job making some capitalist richer, or devoting their life only to raising a family and keeping house, fighting to stay ahead of debt or with nothing to offer for their children except life in a system based on exploitation and oppression...It is no wonder that many young people fall prey to the corruption pushed by the bourgeoisie–seeking answers in mystic faiths or escape in drugs and cynicism.” For the workers, they paint a picture of utter hopelessness.

On the other hand, Avakian saw some hope for the youth, who unlike their parents “are not as ’permeated’ with many of the bourgeois prejudices as their elders and they don’t yet have the immediate concerns of having the main responsibility for supporting a family, keeping their home, paying their car notes–all responsibilities that do have a conservative pull on adult workers.” (YCL Paper, p. 18)

This anti-working class line blinded the RCP from seeing that it is the very conditions of working class existence that make the proletariat the revolutionary class. Rather than carry out the difficult work of education combined with mass struggle and the building of a revolutionary party to lead the working people to socialism, Avakian resorted to “shocking” the workers. This is what the anarchists and “Weathermen” also proposed.

Rejecting the Marxist-Leninist dialectical-materialist view that the revolutionary potential of the working class rests on its material conditions and objective position in society, the RCP promoted all , sorts of metaphysical and idealist notions to get around these questions. For example, in its Program and in the YCL paper, both factions said that the basic problem in society facing youth today is not jobs, not the threat of war or fascism, not racism or capitalist exploitation for that matter. No, they say, it is that “imperialism is unable to offer them a life with a purpose.” (YCL Paper, p. 6)

Starting with this idealist notion of what is “basic,” the RCYB was bound to move towards reformism and careerism. It was bound to isolate itself from the broad masses of youth who are fighting back against the real attacks capitalism is launching and who are developing a revolutionary purpose to their lives in the course of that struggle.

On the flip side, the RCP promotes the worst brand of trade union economism, tailing the most backward ideas promoted by the reformist union leaders like Ed Sadlowski. In a speech last year, Avakian called on workers to make “economic struggle” their “center of gravity” as opposed to the political struggle against imperialism. Even the phony “workerism” reflected in their publications interspersed with an occasional “damn” and a widespread use of profanity reflected the RCP’s contempt for our class.

No wonder a significant section of the working class members of the RCP and its student organization rejected Avakian’s call for “communism” in word, revisionism in deed. These forces who had done the most to build up the youth work of the RCP knew full well that the young workers would reject Avakian’s shock therapy.


On the heels of the youth split came the next far-reaching breach in the ranks of the RCP. For the past year and a half, since the Chinese people’s great and historic victory over the “gang of four,” the RCP had played agnostic. All this time they claimed to be “investigating the question” and “greatly concerned about the events in China.”

But there was no such “investigation” or “concern” in the RCP’s leadership. Ignoring all facts to the contrary, Avakian was already proclaiming that “a revisionist coup has taken place” in China. (Internal document, “Revisionists are Revisionists and Must Not Be Supported,” adopted by the RCP Central Committee)

In one internal document, Avakian admitted that “...in many ways the Party as a whole has been effectively split for a year or more...This went so far that some comrades took a factional attitude toward the Party as a whole and a hostile attitude toward the Chair [Avakian’s nickname–ed.].”

Except for a majority of the West Coast membership, there appears to be a massive rejection of RCP’s anti-China line. For the past year and a half, Avakian and his opposition leadership worked out a compromise. Neither would make their views on China known while hoping for a reversal in China itself.

Even the “pro-China” faction rejected the most important decisions of the 11th Party Congress of the CPC. (The Congress reinstated Teng Hsiao-ping to his posts, after he was cleared of the frame-up charges placed against him by the “gang of four”)

Both RCP factions now claim that the Communist Party of China is “split.” This claim is without any basis. The CPC has never been more unified, with the broadest support ever on the part of the masses.

The RCP leaders opted for a policy ol practicing revisionism, being closed and hiding their views from the masses and the rank and file, and intriguing and conspiring. As the Central Committee paper puts it:

Should we come out now and publicly support the Four and denounce the current rulers? No....Should we continue to put forward China as a socialist country? Yes, for now we should because it is still an objective fact. But we should, in discussing China, put stress on Mao’s line, the Cultural Revolution and the fact that in socialist society classes exist, class struggle is acute and the danger of capitalist restoration is ever-present and great...We should avoid as much as possible giving any support to the current rulers of China [isn’t the working class the “current rulers” of socialist China?– ed.] and certainly continue not to congratulate them on any posts any of then assume, and most definitely not on an) of their victories over the proletariat– i.e., the smashing of the ’gang of four.’ (“Revisionists are Revisionists...”)

The leadership also mapped out a “public line” which stated: “Comrades should keep in mind that what they say to workers and others whom we cannot count on as being completely reliable has to be put in the category of statements to the general public since they may very well become that (for example a worker may have contact with both us and the OL-CPML, and may not understand why he should not discuss with them what we tell him about our position on China.”)(ibid.)

So the same Avakian who wanted to shock the workers with proclamations of “communism” is now afraid that RCP’s line on China will be discussed by the “general public” and that, heaven forbid, it might even reach the CPML–as if our Party wasn’t aware from the start of the RCP machinations around China and as if we hadn’t been the first to alert the masses about the RCP betrayal.

What we see, and what the rank and File sees is a shrewd, cynical manipulator, not a Marxist-Leninist leader. Avakian was afraid of an open internal debate on the question of China and on the youth question. He introduced the YCL paper with the warning: “This paper is not being distributed to open the question for ’free debate’ in any Party unit.”

As for the China question, the RCP leadership ruled: “The RCYB (youth organization), because of its nature [what nature?–ed.] should not have a line on this question (though obviously. Party members within it have a line). Only those closest to the Party within the RCYB would be told our full position, as outlined above.” (“Revisionists are Revisionists ...”)

The leadership took on a campaign to run the membership from demonstration to demonstration and keep their minds off China and off politics. Members were not allowed to study The Call or other documents which might spark questions for which there were no answers.

Within the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association, the RCP cadre were forced to play a disruptive role and soon grew isolated. Their policy paper said: “Should we continue to work in U.S.-China? Yes we should, but we must recognize the obvious fact that it will be an extremely difficult task to carry out. In particular, it will be extremely difficult to balance building friendship for China as a socialist country, which is still correct at this time, with not contributing to building up the current rulers in opposition to the Four...” (“Revisionists Are Revisionists. ..”)

For a long time, the RCP cadre did their best to carry out this contradictory line. They succeeded in keeping the Association’s magazine, New China, from even mentioning Chairman Hua Kuo-feng’s appointment for a year and in keeping the masses in the dark about the earth-shaking, revolutionary events in China.

As regards the CPML, which firmly upheld Marxism-Leninism and gave as much insight as possible on the complicated events going on in China, the RCP labeled our Party “lackeys of China.” This was a call on the membership of RCP to engage in all sorts of intrigues, and even those who generally supported China made their demarcation line one of not supporting “everything” China says.

But contained in this seemingly “independent” stance was still basically a vacillation on the fundamental questions of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. These included Chairman Mao’s analysis of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which evaluated both positive and negative aspects; his favorable estimation of comrade Teng Hsiao-ping, well-expressed throughout Volume Five of his Selected Works; and most importantly his brilliant thesis on the three worlds, of which no mention is made throughout the whole internal struggle in the RCP.

Overall the rebellion of the rank and file is very positive. It has severely weakened Avakian’s anti-Marxist and anti-Party activities. The split sheds more light on the RCP’s hysterical attack on our Party’s unity efforts, which stand out as a clear alternative to RCP’s splitting and factionalism.


The rebellion also proves what we have always maintained, that the majority of RCP’s rank and file are honest revolutionaries who joined the RCP to fight for socialism, not to attack China or China’s leaders. Now they are struggling against or at least questioning revisionism.

We hope that this struggle will express itself in a giant step towards Marxism-Leninism and revolution. We also hope that many who accepted the other aspects of RCP’s opportunism, such as their chauvinism on the national question, trade union economism, etc., will begin to put the pieces together and understand the roots of the anti-China attack.

As we have long pointed out, the attack on China is not a surprise for us. We have seen this development coming for many years, based upon RCP’s Trotskyite stand on the international situation and their general opportunist view of the struggle here at home. Their divisive and sectarian posture towards the third world, their underestimation of the danger of Soviet social-imperialism and their theory of equilibrium, which targeted both superpowers equally and opposed the worldwide united front against the two superpowers, were all hallmarks of RCP’s earliest break with China and with the Marxist-Leninist movement.

The RCP couldn’t attack Marxism-Leninism at home without attacking it in the land of socialism and vice-versa. RCP’s white chauvinist line, which consolidated itself in regard to the Afro-American people’s struggle in the U.S., brought RCP to focus their guns on the liberation struggles of the third world. After all, as Avakian was fond of saying: “All nationalism is nationalism.”

The same mechanical separation of the economic and political struggle in the U.S. workers movement also caused RCP to take a reactionary stand on the present struggle in China and line up with the worst enemies of the Chinese revolution, the “gang of four.”

In this light, we again call on our comrades in the RCP to make a thorough-going break with revisionism and on this basis to use the present struggle not to drift backward or get demoralized and drop out of the struggle, but rather to move forward towards building a single, unified Marxist-Leninist party.