Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Modern Times Editorial

Adventurism on the March? Reflections on the RCP’s May Day


First Published: Modern Times, [Hawaii] Vol. IV, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Once again cities across the country are plastered with revolutionary slogans, posters and red paint. Honolulu and outlying areas now host a new batch of posters urgently summoning the working class to action on May 1.

The RCP’s May Day may well prove to be a real test for the Party. To many observers, their tactics are becoming much like the style of Yippie actions in the late anti-war period, though considerably grimmer. The RCP’s initial May Day call seemed to emphasize the mobilizing of a “general strike” of workers and students, but as May 1st approaches, the RCP’s aim has become more vague. “Take History into our Hands!”, their new colorful poster urges. “Hasten” the revolutionary movement!, a graffiti artist has scrawled on a construction site wall in Waikiki, probably to the confusion or amusement of passers-by.

To “build” for May Day, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has embarked on adventurist publicity-seeking stunts which have caused scores of their activists to be arrested, including Pete Thompson recently in Los Angeles.

The RCP’s growing isolation from the workers’ movement and other mass struggles has made the RCP and its deified chairman, Bob Avakian, good targets for police and government prosecutors looking for scapegoats for the lousy state of affairs in the U.S. This political persecution of the RCP should be opposed—but the RCP should also review the efficacy of its tactics. Staged events like showering the Kuhio Federal Building with leaflets and getting people busted go only so far, and soon these desperate antics get tired and worn.

The new RCP Programme (available from Revolution Books or Modern Times—or from the next RCP comrade to approach you) rings loud and clear with their consolidated idealist and ultra-left position that relies almost totally on putting out a “revolutionary pole” to the near exclusion of uniting with the mass struggles of people today. In practice, this stand amounts to contempt for the people and empty leftist posturing and cheerleading— the complete opposite of good revolutionary work. The RCP’s stance is opportunist in that seeks only to promote itself by using the struggles of the people. As one RCP cadre asserted concerning May Day: “It is not a matter of whether the masses are ready, but how are revolutionaries taking out revolution to the people.” The RCP has turned in on itself and away from the people and, in today’s atmosphere of growing repression, such a stance is objectively counter-productive and counter-counterrevolutionary.

Like the alternating red and white pole of the corner barbershop, the RCP’s “red” pole easily merges with the white of anti-communism it engenders among the people. As much as we may wish to ignore the RCP, its actions have an impact on the left’s role and following in Hawaii.

International Workers Day, May 1st, deserves far better in the way of commemoration of the important workers struggle which gave it birth. In the wake of this recent RCP crusade, it may take some time for the left to regenerate really broad working class observance of May Day.

The RCP’s May Day will no doubt flop, or at least fall way short of the original stated objectives—unless, of course, it was only meant to be a series of publicity stunts for a party saddled with morale problems. In the past, no matter how great the fiasco, the RCP has rushed to declare the event a “great success”, proclaiming that some gigantic “blow” had been struck.

There will be no large strike or absenteeism (as much as many of us would like to stay home or demonstrate solidarity with the international workers’ movement which mobilizes millions of students and workers on May Day worldwide). Many RCP May Day Brigade members, like the Weathermen and Yippies of the past, may face jail sentences or huge fines, or be forced underground for their antics that produced little or no mass following and tended to define “revolutionary movement” in terms of dramatic, one-shot escapades that ended in arrests.

We can only hope that the RCP comrades will pause after their May Day campaign to assess objectively the results and gauge what has become of their hours of effort and countless reams of posters and leaflets.

Have the people been awakened to the need for revolution, or treated to a side show? What does the obvious and growing isolation of the RCP demonstrate in the wake of May Day? What should the left in general learn from this escapade? Do we have a sense of our own weakness and relative lack of influence in the working class? What steps must we take to rectify the line of the socialist movement, create a genuine leading party, unite our cadre, and build a revolutionary movement in Hawaii and the U.S. mainland?