Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Is the RCP crazy? Or is there a method to their madness?


First Published: Unity, Vol. 3, No. 10, May 9-22, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) this year attracted a lot of publicity throughout the country due to their activities promoting their May Day events. From Honolulu to New York, RCP members plastered walls with posters, spray-painted slogans and broke into the UN Security Council to dump paint on U.S. and Soviet envoys. In Los Angeles, they even got one of their members killed due to their provocative activities.

But when May Day arrived the RCP got far less than the 50,000 people it predicted would turn out for their events. In total, around 600 people participated in RCP marches in various cities, with most marches drawing only 35-50 people. Nevertheless the bourgeois media still devoted considerable attention to the RCP, portraying them as crazed “Maoist communists.”

It is easy to simply dismiss the RCP as just a fanatical ultra-left sect. However we should understand the RCP’s rationale for its behavior in order to make a clear distinction between the RCP’s perversion of communism and genuine communism.

RCP’s rationale

According to the RCP, the status of the U.S. as a superpower over the past 35 years prevented the emergence of a revolutionary situation in the U.S. and led to the “overall political backwardness prevalent in the working class today.” The RCP predicts though that within the next decade, conditions will radically and rapidly change due to the growing crisis of U.S. imperialism and the danger of war between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.

The RCP sees that the task today is to emphasize “propaganda work” to attract to the RCP the “advanced” elements who already hate the system, and to alert the masses to the upcoming world apocalypse. The RCP believes that though they may be despised by working people today, their leadership will be recognized and vindicated as the objective conditions develop as they have predicted. Thus the RCP believes that dealing with the immediate concerns of the masses is inconsequential as compared to spreading the word, by whatever way possible, about the RCP’s views on war and revolution.

In a basic way, the RCP’s view today is the same as it was several years ago when it was known as the Revolutionary Union (RU) and held a rightist line that denied the importance of raising the political consciousness of the masses and leading their political struggles. Like the RCP today, the RU saw the masses as backward and uninterested and incapable of taking up political struggle. The RU believed that tailing after the economic struggles of the workers should be the main form of communist work. The RCP’s ultra-leftism today is simply the flipside of this old rightism.

Rejection of the mass line

What the RCP explicitly rejects is the mass line, that is, that communists must base their work on the objective level of the mass movement and step by step raise the political consciousness of the masses. They must work with the advanced elements and give concrete leadership to the less politically developed sectors of the workers and people. Communists must concern themselves with the day-to-day struggles of the masses as well as educate them to the broader political questions of the day and the basic objectives of the revolutionary movement. Only in such a way can communists become the actual leadership of the masses and guide the mass movement in whatever direction will be necessary as developments dictate.

The RCP’s approach therefore is not attracting genuine advanced elements revolutionary-minded workers and progressives who are open to transforming themselves into communists and leading the mass movement. Rather, the RCP is attracting elements who are anarchistically inclined and isolated from the actual struggles of the masses.

Furthermore the RCP’s infantile antics today will not endear them to the people as a revolutionary crisis develops, but will ensure that the RCP will be ignored. People want serious revolutionary leadership that concerns itself with the long-term as well as the immediate needs of the masses and can build up the masses’ organized and fighting capacity.

Nevertheless, the RCP will not simply disappear. Certainly some of their members will become discouraged at their isolation. But the worsening economic situation and the real growing danger of war create conditions that can be taken advantage of by the RCP.

Danger of RCP

The activities of the RCP make the work of genuine communists more difficult as the RCP stains the reputation of communism. At campuses and factory gates, obnoxious RCP newspaper vendors rant and lecture at the masses, alienating many people from communism. The RCP, in standing apart from the concrete struggles of the people, lead some to believe that communists have no concern for the well-being of the masses. The RCP even attacks people as being “fools” and “selfish” for not joining with them. Thus the RCP actually helps fuel anti-communism. The bourgeoisie knows this full well and this is one reason why the RCP is given so much publicity in the media.

Furthermore, the provocative actions by the RCP encourage counter-moves by the state and reactionary elements, thus endangering all progressive forces.

Therefore, it is necessary for genuine communists to continue to correctly carry out their work and clearly explain to people that the RCP has nothing in common with real communism and revolution.