Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Party

Spector of Communism Haunts the Bourgeoisie: The Issue Behind All Issues


First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 11, March 29, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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SAN PEDRO, Ca. – On Wednesday morning January 30, supporters of the Communist Workers Party were physically attacked while selling the Workers Viewpoint newspapers in front of the Todd shipyard in San Pedro, near Los Angeles. This was a planned, deliberate attack backed by the company and union bureaucrats. One of the ringleaders was a steward and known company man, and most of the workers who participated were from his department. The attack followed an incident two weeks earlier when a racist tried to start a fight between a CWP supporter and another worker. When an Afro-American worker tried to stop the fight, the racist called him a “nigger” and ran off. Other racists scribbled graffiti on bathroom walls–“Kill the Jap Commies”.

On Monday, February 4, the CWP put out a leaflet denouncing attacks by the company and union goons. The same group of workers pulled together more workers and attacked the CWP supporters again, injuring some.

The cops who came after the fighting had ended, sided with the company and union goons and blamed the CWP supporters for provoking the incident.

The CWP supporter from Todd who was injured was called into the personnel office and threatened to be fired if anything else happened on company property. The union bureaucrats issued a leaflet following the attack supporting the goons and saying, “We don’t need any communists,” and blaming communists for pitting black against white.

The timing of the attack is clear. The contract is coming up in July and the company and union (Industrial Union of Shipping and Marine-Local 9) bureaucrats want to beat back anyone who wants to stand up and organize against attacks, not just on the CWP, but on all workers. Organizing around the contract continues and the CWP will defend the right of its members and friends to issue communist newspapers at the yard gates.

Biggest Redbaiting Attacks Ever

Many CWP organizers and friends across the country are finding themselves hit by a wave of redbaiting attacks, bigger than we have ever experienced before in our lives. Firings of workers affiliated with the CWP have been sweeping the country. Leading communist fighters are threatened with ouster from the union for their beliefs, like John Spearman, Machinists steward in Wichita, Kansas (see WV, March 1, 1980, “He Doesn’t Just Study the Contract, He Studies Revolution”). At the General Motors assembly plant in Linden, New Jersey, where CWP supporters are organizing, workers were mobilized by the union bureaucrats in January to beat up “Revolutionary Communist” Party members at the plant gates and join a “counter-rally” against communism.

Alongside this, the bourgeoisie and their media are using the Iranian hostages and the Olympics to incite the American people into calling for war, defending “America the Beautiful”. Carter and the capitalist class milk every drop of chauvinism out of these seeming “foreign attacks”, to shift U.S. people’s attention away from home the unsolvable inflation, police killings of youth, government attacks on the right to strike. Blinded by this chauvinist hysteria, U.S. people become more tightly chained to their own slave-master, eating whatever oppression is served up to them at home. This is lining people up on the side of U.S. imperialism, which means standing for murderous aggression into other countries, American soldiers killing other peoples and raping other countries for their own oppressor. This is all part of the bourgeoisie’s attempt to make Communism, Iranians, and so on the main enemy of the American people, rather than U.S. imperialism itself.

In the 60’s – Vietnam, Today – All Aspects of Life

But the situation today is very fluid, it changes from week to week. For example, students who were against our support for Iran, attacking our agitation/propaganda teams a few months ago, are now organizing with us against the draft. This shows the superficiality of anti-communism of many, often just a pragmatic reaction to things, rather than based on any principles. No matter how desperately the bourgeoisie may want to whip up chauvinism around the state of affairs internationally, the American people aren’t getting completely sidetracked. Scapegoat politics cannot blind the broad masses to inflation skyrocketing at 20%, increasing unemployment, and their children facing the draft.

There is tremendous disorientation, and people are changing their minds, taking positions on issues every day. Unlike the anti-war movement of the 60’s, where people took positions on one issue, for or against the war, today people are taking positions, on issue after issue, becoming polarized. Not only students like the 60’s, but among all workers and oppressed people. From Watergate to Iran, the Olympics, inflation, the Klan, people are forced to take sides. The cumulative effect of these issues, one after another, can either rally people around the bourgeoisie or (if communists reach out to them) rally people to question and oppose the whole capitalist system. More and more, there is no middle ground.

The U.S. today is like the period in Germany leading up to Hitler’s fascist reign. There the bourgeoisie couldn’t control the economic crisis, and people lost faith in the government. The bourgeois democratic form of government (Weimar Republic) collapsed. This brought on the naked confrontation between “those who have and those who don’t have.” There were only two sides: the side of the people–the communists, antifascists and anti-war; and the side of the bourgeoisie, represented by Hitler and the Nazi movement.

The U.S. ruling class today is pushing people to line up on their side. All the examples of the bourgeoisie trying to make communism the enemy are part of this polarization – pushing people to two poles, communism or fascism.

Communism Haunts the Bourgeoisie

The polarization is taking place on a massive scale over all questions and issues. But the spectre that is really haunting the bourgeoisie is the revolutionary alternative that answers all these questions, the workers’ communist cause. That’s why we believe that the anti-communist rallies and beatings are not random, but they are orchestrated at the highest levels of the International and the bourgeoisie’s ruling circles. For example, in John Spearman’s case the single charge against him was filed by a worker who suddenly became a union steward, went to his first union meeting in eight years, then after the trial to kick John out of the union, he suddenly quit the job and moved out-of-state. This scab certainly wasn’t acting alone. And to block the union election victory of a CWP supporter in California, Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall personally intervened.

Both the bourgeoisie and their labor lieutenants, the union bureaucrats, are reacting to the Party’s growing strength and influence. The union bureaucrats are losing ground, with workers flocking out of established unions or growing more cynical about the hacks, while CWP is gaining. For example, assassinated CWP comrade Jim Waller built up the union in the textile mills and became local president in the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. The union hacks panicked, putting the local in trusteeship (direct International control) and have never taken a public position condemning the murders of the CWP 5.

Now union hacks have suddenly become “active,” organizing anti-communism rallies. They come out like this, because it’s the only thing left they can hope to rally people around, to pump themselves up.

Strengthen Day to Day Work, Put All Questions in Perspective With Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought

For communist organizers today, this is a relatively new situation. Communism is an issue everywhere, independent of our will. The polarization that we are experiencing is the most inflammable in our lifetime, and it reflects the awakening of the American people. But they can be polarized in different directions and that’s why the Party’s leadership is decisive in crystallizing the polarization to support the Party.

We should use the communist character of our day-to-day work to tie all these questions together. We must win the masses over to see the danger of world war and fascism and the prospects for proletarian revolution right here. This means not just selling the paper at the gate. Inside the plant, with your friends and family, on every question, every issue, everything people talk about and whisper about, we have to speak with a Marxist-Leninist-Mao Tsetung Thought perspective. We have to turn “being on the hot-seat” (on trial for being a communist) into a forum to explain what the communist solution is.

Many people will sympathize with individual communist fighters if they know you, or because they respect your organizing. Leading day-to-day fights is an important part of communist organizing, but beating back the redbaiting by standing on your record alone is not enough. Then you can still have workers who say, “I can’t fault what you do in the union, but I just don’t like your beliefs.” They may still go to the other pole. Stand on you record and your beliefs. They’re trying to put communists and militant resistance on the run, but we should turn this into an opportunity to be an opinion-maker. We have to take the political offensive against the attacks, and also beat back the goons, otherwise the workers will become silent. Over a period of time, through communist organizing and agitation-propaganda, people will know more and be able to make a more conscious decision. We have to step up our study of the basics of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to be able to strongly and persuasively explain socialism well.

Dori Blitz’s fight against redbaiting in Virginia presents some important lessons for others battling such attacks. She was a Teamsters steward, removed from her position in the midst of redbaiting hysteria where many workers went along with the ouster. Many were scared, others temporarily drawn into seeing communism (and therefore her) as the workers’ main enemy. The company used this opportunity, when the workers were divided and their anger was aimed away from the capitalists, to lay off hundreds of workers. Later, workers began to reevaluate the whole redbaiting, questioning if it was really the right thing, because what did the workers gain, (see WV, February 9, 1980, “Workers Re-evaluate Martinsville Hysteria”).

In other plants where redbaiting has attacked communist fighters, people have reported the same “re-evaluation” by co-workers afterward. In Todd shipyards, you can be sure Todd will use this opportunity when the workers are divided to come down with new attacks on all the workers, taking back past gains or rights, and hoping it will get through without a fight. We have to lead the organizing against these attacks. At the same time we should step up day-to-day communist agitation-propaganda, to steer the workers’ re-evaluations towards the real workers’ alternative, the Communist Workers Party and the struggle to lead the socialist revolution and end the bourgeoisie’s oppressive rule forever.