Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

New National Weekly Revolutionary Worker
“Create Public Opinion. . . Seize Power!”


First Published: Revolution, Vol. 4, No. 4, April 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On May Day this year, the Revolutionary Communist Party will blast out with a tremendous advance, a leap in the revolutionary agitation and propaganda work of the Party–the new national weekly Revolutionary Worker. This paper will be published in English, Spanish, Chinese and other languages. The Revolutionary Worker newspaper is the voice of the Party among the working class and the broad masses of people. Until now it has been published in 19 local editions, unified by a central Workers Press Service under the leadership of the Party, with nine of these coming out twice a month. While there have been many advances both in the content and distribution of these papers, resulting from the deeper grasp of our Party on the central role of agitation to the work of the Party in preparing for the revolutionary seizure of power, what we need now is a different kind of newspaper.

The new Revolutionary Worker will continue emphasizing agitation, whose importance has already been underlined (see the article “On the Role of Agitation and Propaganda,” Revolution, November 1979). But more, in a whole new way it will really put the face of the Revolutionary Communist Party out to the broad masses as a national political force, a force for revolution. We need a newspaper that comes out not once a month, not twice a month, but regularly every week, a newspaper that concentrates the most glaring political exposures from all over the country, which at once reveals a picture of all the ugly features of this man-eating system of capitalism and a sweeping view of the development of the revolutionary movement.

There is no such newspaper in this country, and without such a paper we cannot prepare to carry out the central task and the highest form of revolution: the seizure of power by armed force. Mao Tsetung said, “First and foremost create public opinion and seize power,” and it is in this spirit that we launch the new national weekly paper. We are not talking about a newspaper in the hands of a relatively few revolutionary agitators. We aim to make this newspaper a social force for revolution among the workers and the masses of people, a weapon in the hands of millions, creating revolutionary public opinion and hounding the bourgeoisie at every turn. Neither are we talking about a newspaper like this simply in order to raise the general political consciousness of the masses. With this paper we will be building a network to train revolutionary leaders among the workers and the masses of the oppressed people and to swell the ranks of the Party. There exists today the potential to put this paper in the hands of many more people, far beyond the ranks of the Party, and in taking this bold step, the Revolutionary Communist Party aims to seize the time right now.

Speaking to the need for such a national paper, Lenin said:

We must not be discouraged by the fact that the voice of political exposure is today so feeble, timid and infrequent. This is not because of a wholesale submission to police despotism, but because those who are able and ready to make exposures have no tribune from which to speak, no eager and encouraging audience, they do not see anywhere among the people that force to which it would be worthwhile directing their complaint against the “omnipotent” Russian government. (“Where to Begin,” Collected Works, Vol. 5, pp. 21-22.)

While the particular conditions of the struggle in Russia in 1901 were different and there was no really unified communist party at that time, still the principles on which Lenin based his analysis of the need for a national newspaper apply today. Today, it is not mainly the case that the relatively low level of the struggle of the working class is the result of outright suppression by the bourgeoisie, although that is part of it and overall is a growing aspect, but rather the political and ideological domination of the ruling class which shows up in generally backward trends still prevailing among the broad masses of workers. This is because of the remaining reserves of the U.S. imperialists. Despite the recent defeats and growing crisis of U.S. imperialism, still the conditions among the majority of workers is such that they do not see the necessity, nor the inevitability, of rising up to make revolution. But this situation is not static, and today there is a downward spiral, marked by increased exploitation and oppression for the masses and the growing threat of world war.

Is it not the case that there are tens of millions of people in this country who hate the system, at least what it does to them–many of them who awakened to political life in the storms of the 1960s and many more who will be awakened and drawn into political life in the 1980s? Aren’t there millions whose questions have not yet been answered, whose longing for an end to oppression has not been extinguished, but burns deep inside, often concealed? Is it the case that their oppression has ended? No. Rather it has intensified. Their questions remain unanswered.

In fact, as we have begun to step out more boldly with the local editions of the Revolutionary Worker, we have seen that this spark, this longing for revolution is very much alive among the masses of people, and people have come forward around the newspapers. How much more powerful will be a frequent and regular national newspaper, clearly presenting a picture of the need for revolution and representing a force which aims to smash the “omnipotent” state of the capitalist class to dust. The fact that this newspaper can “go anywhere” both from the standpoint of gathering exposures and in distribution, far beyond the ranks of the Party, will be a powerful encouragement and impetus for the masses to gather ’round the newspaper, read it, write for it, distribute it and join together in common cause to put an end to misery.

A Powerful Social Force

This is no idle dream. We dare not only to dream of revolution but to work unceasingly for the fulfillment of this dream. And now before us is the most practical, concrete and pressing task that we must undertake to prepare for revolution–the publication of a national weekly newspaper.

Through carrying out concrete political exposures, in the main, this newspaper must become a powerful social force for revolution. Lenin compared such a newspaper to “part of an enormous pair of smith’s bellows that would fan every spark of the class struggle and of popular indignation into a general conflagration.” (“What Is To Be Done?”, Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 508.) The national weekly must become the face of the Party to millions. In every factory, every housing project, every working class district, every ghetto and barrio, every hell-hole prison and broadly throughout society wherever people are awakening to political life, wherever there is discontent and outrage against this system, the Revolutionary Worker must become an indispensable weapon in the hands of the masses.

This is not simply a matter of increased distribution. It is a matter of turning this newspaper into the lifeblood of a developing revolutionary movement. It must become a newspaper that the class conscious workers and broad masses look to for political nourishment and direction, a newspaper that the workers take up as their own in the way that the following letter written by a Russian worker on behalf of his comrades to Lenin’s Iskra puts it: “We would like to write a letter to your Iskra and ask you to teach us, not only how to begin, but how to live and how to die.”

Indeed, in the years before the Russian revolution the newspapers of the Bolshevik Party served as such a social force. Workers waited by the hundreds outside the newspaper offices of Iskra to get copies of the paper for distribution before the police could arrive to stop the paper from going out. The newspaper Pravda, which began publishing as a daily paper in 1912, was the political sustenance that reared a whole generation of Russian workers for the cause of revolution.

Now we are taking the leap to the regular publication of a weekly paper, not yet a daily, but we aim to create precisely this type of revolutionary force with the Revolutionary Worker. And it is clear that as the rapidly changing objective situation intensifies, millions more people will be awakened to political life and will be in search of some revolutionary answers to the question: why the hell do we have to live this way?

The Revolutionary Worker will be able to serve not only as a “tribune of the people” in creating a lifeline between the Party and broad masses and building a broad revolutionary movement, but as a “collective organizer” for the Party as well. In fact, the newspaper is central to the work of actually training professional revolutionaries from among the masses of workers and oppressed people, as well as revolutionary intellectuals.

What is required to build this paper is an army of revolutionary agitators who penetrate into every political, social, cultural and scientific aspect of society and into every social movement, an army of communist reporters who as Lenin put it are “ubiquitous and omniscient.” That is, they go everywhere and analyze every aspect of capitalist society, penetrate behind the scenes, establish contacts far and wide, and are able to uncover all sorts of “state secrets” which the politicians are so puffed up and inflated about and which they find so easy to blab.

To accomplish this, local work for local editions must be transformed into work for the common national newspaper and the local editions of the Revolutionary Worker into bureaus which branch out into new ground and multiply their revolutionary agitation tenfold. The local bureaus will publish local supplements to the national paper, but the principal aspect of these bureaus must be to devote their work to the publication of the national newspaper; for until this is done we will not be able to establish a single newspaper capable of really serving the development of the revolutionary movement with all-around agitation and propaganda.

A paper that is truly national in scope is essential not only to spread the influence of the Party and the Party organization itself to areas where we are not, but also to glean information from every corner in order to arm the Party and the broad audience of the newspaper with a real knowledge of the pulse of the country and diverse classes and strata. How many corners of the country are not reached by the Party’s revolutionary line? How much do we know about the lives, the thoughts, the struggles of sections of the people like the farmers, the soldiers, the urban petty bourgeoisie? There have been advances with the further development of the local Revolutionary Workers and the central press service, but only the weapon of the national weekly newspaper is truly suited to changing this situation.

Fruit of Struggle Against Economism

This leap to the publication of the Revolutionary Worker as a national weekly newspaper is a devastating blow to economist thinking in the ranks of the revolutionary movement, a blow to the remnants of the influence of the line of the revisionist CPUSA which was crystallized in the reformist and capitulationist Mensheviks that were driven from the ranks of the Party just over one year ago. It is a blow against primitivism and localism. Speaking of the need for a national as opposed to local papers, Lenin said:

The predominance of the local papers over a central press may be a sign of either poverty or luxury. Of poverty, when the movement has not yet developed the forces for large scale production, continues to flounder in amateurism, and is all but swamped with the petty details of factory life. Of luxury, when the movement has fully mastered the task of comprehensive exposure and comprehensive agitation and it becomes necessary to publish numerous local newspapers in addition to the central organ. Let each decide for himself what the predominance of local newspapers implies in present day Russia. (“What Is To Be Done?”, Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 485.)

There is no doubt what the predominance of local papers means today. It is a sign that we are still haunted by primitivism. Local newspapers played a very important role in the early days of the Revolutionary Union and the period leading to the formation of the Party. These papers helped in grouping together the revolutionary forces, spreading the influence of the RU and spreading the influence of the revolutionary forces among the broad masses. There was no basis for a national paper at that time, and without these local papers many forces would have been wasted on more narrow activity and consigned to political oblivion. At the time of the formation of the Party, these various papers were unified and transformed from anti-imperialist papers to Party newspapers with a central news service–the Worker newspapers. But their continued publication as local papers after the formation of the Party in large part reflected the influence of the Menshevik line and economism in general. The repudiation of this line and the development of the local editions into really revolutionary newspapers cannot be separated from the overall political struggle against this line and the deepening of the Party’s understanding of the central role of revolutionary agitation to the work of communists, that is, the main role of communists as tribunes of the people. (Lest the Ladies and Gentlemen of the CPML get too puffed up about all this, we wish to remind them that we are speaking of course about a revolutionary newspaper and the poverty resulting from primitivism in the revolutionary movement, and not a thing like their Call which has since its inception demonstrated weekly and on a grand scale not merely poverty but the complete political bankruptcy of the CPML.)

While it is certainly not the case that the newspapers are still stuck in the rut of “the petty details of factory life,” and while they have gone over to revolutionary political exposures as their main content, these advances in the local papers have only served to sharpen our understanding of the necessity for the leap to the national weekly. The situation is excellent. But it will help to take a more thorough look at certain past views of the need for local papers.

Breaking with Wrong Thinking

In the past there was a tendency to think that there was some other “more concrete work” than the publication and distribution of a national newspaper which would better lay the foundations of the revolutionary movement and build up the vanguard Party of the working class. Included in this thinking about some “more concrete” means to organize the revolutionary movement was the concept that local papers were better suited to gather around them the class conscious workers and revolutionary minded people. Local work, local exposures, were judged “more interesting,” “closer” and “more relevant” to where the workers were at. Nestled in this line of “more concrete” were shades of the Menshevik line which sent people into the factories with the aim and main activity of “organizing” the masses around the abuses most directly in front of their noses, a line which opposed the role of communists as “tribunes of the people” as “left idealism” on the basis that it would alienate Party members from the masses who are principally engaged in the economic struggle.

In fact local political exposures will only really be brought alive in the context of a national paper. In addition to having local supplements, the national weekly Revolutionary Worker will publish and bring to national attention the best, the most powerful local exposures. The fact that it is the national voice of the Party will help put every local exposure in the revolutionary context of the need to overthrow and smash bourgeois state power in this country.

In arguing against posing national newspaper work in contradiction to building strong political organization in the local areas, Lenin pointed out:

It is not true to say that “we have been carrying on our work mainly among the enlightened workers while the masses have been engaged almost exclusively in the economic struggle.”.. .That is the first point. On the other hand, the masses will never learn to conduct the political struggle until we help to train leaders for this struggle, both from among the enlightened workers and from among the intellectuals. Such leaders can acquire training solely by systematically evaluating all the everyday aspects of our political life, all attempts at protest and struggle on the part of various classes and on various grounds. Therefore to talk of “rearing political organizations” and at the same time to contrast the “paper work” of a political newspaper to “live political work in the localities” is plainly ridiculous. (“What Is To Be Done?”, Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 500.)

Lenin, at that time involved in the process of actually forming the Party, described the newspaper as the link that “guarantees its possessor the possession of the whole chain.” In our conditions, with the vanguard Party already founded, the national weekly Revolutionary Worker is also the key link in further expanding, strengthening and unifying the Party. Lenin further described the newspaper as a guideline for “bricklayers.” Lacking such a paper, “bricks are often laid where they are not needed at all... they are not laid according to the general line, but are so scattered that the enemy can shatter the structure as if it were made of sand and not bricks.” Only through the work of the national paper can experienced “bricklayers” be trained.

It is in this way that the national Revolutionary Worker will serve as the basic collective organizer of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The Party has other national publications such as Revolution and The Communist, consisting of propaganda and theory, which also play a role as collective organizer by answering the deeper questions of the advanced. (See Revolution, Vol. 4, No. 1, “New Revolution Magazine.”) But by centering on timely communist agitation on all the major events of the day, as well as some propaganda and theoretical articles, the Revolutionary Worker will play the main role in arming many people with the line of the Party. Around this paper, revolutionary fighters will gather and train to become leaders of the revolutionary movement. In fact there is no other, more concrete, way to train political leaders than through the work of a regular national newspaper, the very publication and distribution of which requires conducting constant revolutionary agitation among the broad masses, analysis of every political question of the day and a network of professional revolutionaries to carry out such work as well as the organization of various revolutionary actions. This training is key to building the Revolutionary Communist Party and to preparing for the armed seizure of power.

Who are these professional revolutionaries? They are full-time Revolutionary Workers for the Party, agitators and propagandists who can go anywhere, spreading the influence of the Party especially where the struggle is sharp and the masses are raising their heads and looking for answers. The national weekly will require, train and provide ammunition for many such professional revolutionaries. The need to free up and train people to perform this crucial task has been a struggle against the Menshevik line of avoiding such work like the plague. At one point, these opportunists jumped out to propose a national newspaper, but what was the content of their proposal? Their version of a newspaper would require fewer forces and would allow more people in the local areas to concentrate on the day-to-day struggle in the shop, thus saving them from the horrible fate of making revolution. Just how much their proposal had in common with the national weekly Revolutionary Worker can be seen from the pitiful content of their occasional publication, the 25cent Workers Voice.

A Revolutionary Network

The all-around political work associated with the national newspaper is as Lenin put it the best means to “ensure the flexibility required” of a militant communist Party, that is “the ability to adapt itself immediately to the most diverse and rapidly changing conditions of struggle. This flexibility is essential to carrying out revolutionary work in periods of ’acute revolutionary depression’ and to preparing for, appointing the time for and carrying out the nation-wide armed uprising.”

The work of publishing the national weekly Revolutionary Worker will at once provide revolutionaries with the most effective means for broadly creating revolutionary public opinion and building the Party and a network of trained revolutionary fighters under its leadership, which can be prepared to lead the broad mass movement in going over to armed struggle when the time is ripe. As Lenin put it, the network

that would form in the course of establishing and distributing the common newspaper would not have to ’sit about and wait’ for the call for an uprising, but could carry on the regular activity that would guarantee the highest probability of success in the event of an uprising... .Precisely such activity would train all local organizations to respond simultaneously to the same political questions, incidents, and events that agitate the whole of Russia and to react to such ’incidents’ in the most vigorous, uniform, and expedient manner possible; for an uprising is in essence the most vigorous, most uniform, and most expedient ’answer’ of the entire people to the government... (“What Is To Be Done,” Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 513.)

The purpose of all the education and struggle we conduct when there is not yet a revolutionary situation is exactly to prepare for the armed struggle whenever such a situation develops. Why is it the case that in preparing for this highest form of revolutionary struggle a newspaper which mainly plays its role in the realm of consciousness must be at the center of our work? Lenin said, “A newspaper is what we most of all need; without it we cannot conduct that systematic, all-around propaganda, consistent in principle which is the chief and permanent task of Social Democracy in general...” (emphasis ours). Mao Tsetung put it this way, “First and foremost create public opinion and seize power.” Were Lenin and Mao idealists? No. They were pointing out the tremendously important role that man’s consciousness plays in the revolutionary seizure of power. This “public opinion” that Mao is talking about is the revolutionary consciousness of the masses–a powerful force. Without such political consciousness, the masses cannot make revolution.

Overall, struggle is principle. What we are preparing for is indeed a struggle–the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. While the Party must promote struggle, especially revolutionary struggles, the Party’s principle role overall in this period of preparation for the armed struggle is to create public opinion–raising the class consciousness of the masses. It is not possible to accomplish this task without the national weekly Revolutionary Worker.

The urgent need for a paper like this stands out starkly against the background of events which are rapidly accelerating. Monstrous forces are in motion, pulling millions toward the swirl of capitalism’s inevitable crises and imminent war. The masses must be armed so that they can seize their destiny and grasp the opportunity for revolution when the time is ripe. The Revolutionary Communist Party calls on all those who want to hasten capitalism to its grave to take up this task of building the Revolutionary Worker, to write for it, distribute it, agitate with it, study and discuss all the political questions of the day, and wield this paper as a powerful force in preparing for the great storms of the future.