Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

League for Proletarian Revolution (Marxist-Leninist)

On Party Building and the RCP Split. Line Struggle, or Squabble between Opportunists?

First Published: Resistence, Vol. 9, No. 3, April 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Imagine a band of outlaws committing all types of crimes together for many years. All of a sudden, some of the bandits split from the band accusing its leader of wanting to commit a crime they don’t agree with. The splitters blame the band leader for all the present crimes while justifying all the past ones and even claiming that they were in fact good actions. This is in a nutshell what the major split occurred in the Revolutionary Communist Party. (RCP) represents. A big squabble among opportunists in which the dissidents headed by Mike Jarvits, the Revolutionary Workers’ Headquarters (RWH) as they call themselves accuse the Chairman of the RCP, Bob Avakian, of being responsible for all the opportunist political line and practice of the RCP. In this way, they pretend to come out clean, to disavow themselves of RCP’s opportunism, without making any kind of self criticism and repudiation of the line and practice that in fact they have historically upheld.

How does this split in the RCP affect the party building motion in the U.S. and how should communists approach it? To answer this question let us examine more closely the nature of the split and the lines held by the two sides.

In analysing a split in an opportunist organization, the first thing we have to decide is whether or not the split represents the culmination of a two line struggle, the breaking of one of the factions with opportunism and revisionism, or a squabble between opportunists.

At the moment we are writing, neither Avakian’s RCP nor Jarvits RWH have laid out in an open and aboveboard manner what is the difference between the two, what each faction criticizes the other for, etc. Although the RCP has come out criticizing the RWH for stealing the names of their organizations and newspapers, calling those papers “reformist rags,” etc., no line has come out in relation to their differences. Worst yet, the RWH pretends that they are the original RCP, using the names of the RCP’s mass organizations and papers such as The Worker, the National United Workers Organization, the Revolutionary Student Brigade, its paper and all the others. They do this without even explaining that they are another group putting out another paper, nor do they criticize the line of the other Worker, NUWO, etc.


It is public knowledge that Avakian’s faction is attacking the Communist Party of China, supporting the “Gang of four” and claiming that revisionists are in power in China. The position of the RWH on this question is not clear – beyond the fact that they are supposedly upholding the three world thesis and defending the present CPC leadership led by comrade Hua Kuo Feng.

In November, 1976, we alerted the U.S. communist movement that many opportunists were already launching unprincipled attacks against the new leadership of the Communist Party of China. Among these we pointed out were (and still are) the WVO and the RCP. They were launching a campaign within their ranks and close contacts claiming that revisionism was, in power in people’s China, but would not come out in the open with their attacks. We said then:

In its latest Issue of Revolution, the so-called Revolutionary Party described the historical class struggles within the CPC. However, when they reach the present struggle, they say nothing, and resolve everything by stating that they have faith and hope... When asked directly in one of the workshops of their recently held Conference on the International Situation their Chairman Avakian could only answer that the question was not relevant. RCP is clearly consolidating forces, before coming out in the open attacking China. Engaging in much sophistry and demagoguery, the RCP, did not answer our question on the present struggle in China and accused LPR of trying to break the conference. RESISTANCE, Vol. 7, #10.

In this Conference on the International Situation held last year, the RCP’s underhanded attacks against China were clear. They claimed then that after comrade Mao’s death there were some serious struggles within the CPC and implied that it was not known yet who was in power in China. The RCP then refused to come out against the “Gang of four” and stated with a clear racist slur (and veiled attack against comrade Hua Kuo Feng) that if the CPC named “Chim-pan-zee” to head the party, those who uphold the CPC would readily accept this blindly. At the Conference we denounced such unprincipled behaviour and challenged the RCP to put out in the open their position on the international situation, the “Gang of four”, and people’s China. The RCP promised the “party” position in their next theoretical journal–which never materialized. Instead Avakian’s faction produced its revisionist position where they attacked the CPC, and circulated it internally. This was more than a year ago. Now the RWH tells us that they uphold the three world thesis. But for more than a year they concilliated with the attacks against the CPC and the defense of the “Gang of Four”, and they do not make any self-criticism for that. Did the RWH uphold the CPC and the three worlds thesis all that time? If so, why did they wait so long to break with the RCP? Why won’t they denounce the RCP now for its attacks on China? Or did they, in the course of the struggle over the last year become convinced of the incorrectness of the RCP line, and the correctness of the three worlds thesis? If so, why then won’t they make self-criticism now for upholding that incorrect line before? And again, why won’t they denounce the RCP’s line and attacks against the CPC? Could it be because the line of the RWH does not differ significantly from that of the RCP on people’s China, the CPC and the “Gang of four”? Could it be because RWH opportunist leadership took advantage of the discontent among RCP base around its position on China and used it to orchestrate the split under the guise of a line struggle over the international situation when in reality it’s a squabble between opportunists? Could it be because the RWH holds one line among friends and another in public – just like the opportunist RCP does?

The RWH does a very half-hearted defense of people’s China–if at all–and it will have to respond to all of these questions. Obviously, they would like us to close our eyes and let these things lie. And supposedly we are to accept the RWH as genuine, simply because they uphold the three worlds thesis. But communists don’t work that way.

The fact that they supposedly hold opposite positions on the CPC and people’s China, doesn’t make one group genuine and another opportunist. Definitely, whoever is an enemy of People’s China and the CPC is our enemy. But that logic doesn’t work in the reverse – as far as becoming our friends by claiming to be friends of China. It’s a fact that there are some opportunists and class collaborators, like the Communist Party-ML (ex-October League) who echo every resolution of the CPC and who are still right opportunist organizations. That they uphold the three worlds thesis doesn’t deny the fact that they are the main representatives of the worst right-opportunist line anyone can uphold – class collaboration, alliance with their own bourgeoisie – in order, or so they say, to deliver the main blow at Soviet Social-Imperialism, Similarly, for RWH, irrespective of the fact that they claim to uphold the CPC, etc., etc., in their position on the international situation, their political line and program is a reformist, revisionist one. RCP, comrades, was opportunist before they took that counterrevolutionary position in relation to people’s China and the CPC. And the RWH upholds the political line and program of the RCP. Thus we consider the RWH to be opportunist as well. To do otherwise would be to take a narrow, one-sided view on the character of this organization.


There are other differences between the factions on a number of issues, such as the role of the youth organization of the “party”, the character, slogans, etc. around the “party’s” campaign against unemployment, the role of the workers’ organization, (the NUWO), etc. But in the absence of a clear statement on what is their position on each of the issues, it is impossible to establish what demarcates the RWH from the RCP. Coming from our understanding that the RCP has been a consolidated right opportunist organization since its days as the Revolutionary Union (RU), we have no doubts on what the Avakian faction represents, as to the Jarvits faction, we have to judge more from what they have not said than from what they have said. It should be noted here that Jarvits is the same “comrade in opportunism” of Avakian, who had been one of the main ideologists of the CP for years, having founded the RCP with Avakian. He is not innocent of the intrigues the communist movement is so familiar with by now. As a matter of fact, he was the representative of the RCP in the old “National Liaison Committee” in an unholy alliance with the representatives of the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO) and the Black Workers Congress (BWC), – who made plans and decisions for their respective organizations and charted out the path of the future party in a very unprincipled way in the early 70’s. In 1975 he founded the party with Avakian and helped draft the “party” program and led the party in direction in which it is now. So in a sense, the RCP’s line is the responsibility of Jarvits to a very great extent. But the RWH has made no self-criticism of that line whatsoever, but on the contrary, it has gone out of its way to reaffirm it. Let us see.

As we stated above, the RWH has started to publish a series of newspapers with the same names used by the RCP before in a series of areas of work such as the workers and youth movements. The RWH speaks of these organizations as if they were their own, making no disclaim, nor making any self-criticism of the line they represent. They just pretend that nothing has happened, that they are the ones that have always controlled these organizations. Why does the RWH do this without establishing any fundamental line differences with those organizations? Obviously because there are no such fundamental differences in line. The RCP and RWH hold the same line on these questions– the historically opportunist line of the RCP. And the fact that in their internal position RWH accuses Avakian of all kinds of crimes against the line of the RCP further proves that the RWH does not oppose the line of RCP. It proves that the RWH did not split from the RCP because of line differences with the RCP. It proves that the split does not represent a break with the opportunism of the RCP. So we are confronting a case in which the faction that leaves the RCP claims to be the genuine upholders of the RCP line, and that Avakian has degenerated, etc. In other words, the RWH portrays itself as the original and genuine RCP and defends the program of the RCP as established in its founding Congress. By its own admission the RWH turns out to be a better defender of the opportunist and revisionist line of the RCP than the RCP itself!


Having concluded that the split within the RCP is not the result of a line struggle or a break with RCP’s opportunism, but rather a major squabble between opportunists in the leadership, what then can we conclude in terms of its effects on party building in this country, and what should be our attitude towards the “new” RWH?

We have already learned the lesson that a split within an opportunist organization does not necessarily mean that those splitting are breaking with opportunism. This was shown by our experiences with a number of splits in opportunist PSP (Puerto Rican Socialist Party), in the BWC (Black Workers Congress), PRRWO (Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization), RWL (Revolutionary Workers League) and others in the past. There have been plenty of occasions in our movement in which opportunist organizations split in many different directions and neither of them hold a correct line.

In terms of party building: the split represents on the one hand a new organization in the already splintered communist movement, while on the other it represents a weakening of one of the major obstacles to party building. The main danger for the anti-revisionist communist movement is right opportunism, revisionism. The RCP has been one of the major proponents of the right opportunist line. Its economism in the workers movement, its revisionism on matters such as the Afroamerican National question in the U.S. have been consistent with its right opportunist practice and line on just about every single burning question that faces the U.S. communist movement.

The RCP has been an obstacle to party building in many ways. Their disdain for theory, their economising is reflected in their defining an advanced worker as someone who is militant but who can be even an anti-communist, thus liquidating the task of winning over the advanced to communism. On the unity of Marxist-Leninists their sectarian answer was to go ahead on their own and proclaim themselves the party. Further, they have historically liquidated the national question, negating the existence and opposing the right to self-determination of the Afroamerican nation. Instead they have revised Marxism and put forward their “nation of new type” on this question. Similarly on the international situation, they liquidate the importance of the struggle of the third world countries for national liberation, negating the role of colonies in the extraction of superprofits for U.S. imperialism. Two logical offshoots of this are (1) their class collaborationist, right opportunist practice in the trade unions where they work hand in glove with the labor bureaucrats, negate the bribery of the labor bureaucracy, and ally with them without pointing out to the working class their role as social props, etc., and (2) their present attacks against peoples’ China and the three worlds thesis.

The fact that the forces of the opportunist RCP have been split nearly in half weakens considerably the amount of influence they may have over the workers movement and among honest comrades within the communist movement. This is a good thing. And the fact that the opportunism of RCP is further being exposed is also a good thing. We call on all honest cadres of RCP, or former cadres of RCP, to break definitely with their line, not by joining the RWH, which essentially holds the same line, nor by starting a honeymoon with the CPML (OL), but by definitely breaking with opportunism and revisionism, by criticising the incorrect line they were upholding while in the RCP and beginning to move forward toward the building of a genuine Marxist-Leninist party and proletarian revolution in the U.S.