Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

Struggle Is At a High Level, Defines the Tasks of Revolutionaries

First Published: The New Voice, Vol. VII, No. 11, June 12, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Great waves of struggle are sweeping the United States.

Strikes are sharp and often long class battles. The coal miners struck for 110 days, rejecting proposed offers and defying the federal government’s Taft-Hartley order to return to work. Iron ore, dockworker and aerospace strikes have all lasted many weeks. Wildcat strikes and rejections of sellout contract negotiations are not rare.

Movements grow up to fight around a whole series of issues. The Bakke case has become a symbol of racism, and over 20,000 persons marched in Washington, D.C. to reverse the Bakke decision. Fascist Senate Bill 1437 is under attack; people who hear about it won’t have it. Massive demonstrations and revived tactics of civil disobedience have challenged the right of the nuclear industry to exist. Women are not satisfied with their lot under capitalism. Occupational health issues trouble many workers, as one industry after another is proved to be sending its employees into cancer-causing work.

But to call the level of struggle “high” or “low” is a relative question. On what basis should we assess the struggle today? The answer is found by looking at the change that is occurring (being dialectical) and by asking how we must respond to it (being practical).


We say that struggle is not low, and it is on the rise. It is on the rise because the capitalist system is in decay and crisis. The capitalist class is trying to grind the working class down, and where there is oppression, there is resistance.

From a practical stance, there is plenty of scope for political work among the people. There are many struggles that activists can take, up and make their own. They can join and build mass struggles, and certainly there are opportunities to build a base among fellow workers. Participating in these struggles, helping to shape tactics, uniting the workers, doing organizational work, showing in each struggle how the capitalist class is the target, and persuading more workers of the need for revolution–this is work to be done! The New Voice sums up this process in the slogan, Make the Workers’ Struggles the Party’s Struggles! Make the Party’s Outlook the Workers’ Outlook!

Some persons give a more pessimistic assessment of the situation today. Among the so-called anti-dogmatists and critics of “leftism,” a current of opinion holds that we are not in a period characterized by mass struggle, that we find ourselves in a period of reaction and demoralization and that the level of spontaneous mass struggle is low.

As the anti-“leftist” Proletarian Unity League states it, we are “In a situation marked by a low level of spontaneous mass struggle and the continued strong hold of bourgeois reformism, ...” (Two, Three Many Parties, p. 170) Marxist groups in Tucson and Sacramento have recently repeated the same underestimate of the current period.

Let us look over the history of class struggle leading up to the present situation. The civil rights movement, developing into a series of ghetto insurrections and demands for minority advancement, and the movement against U.S. imperialist aggression in Asia were certainly high points of mass struggle against the capitalist class. Today, it seems things are not at such a high level, nor is there a single focus like the Vietnam war. The U.S. imperialists were forced to withdraw from Indochina, and the anti-racist movement subsided for awhile when the capitalists conceded some affirmative action measures and ethnic studies programs.

Now the capitalist class is increasing the attack on the working class. A drive to bust unions is under way. wage, benefit and working condition gains are being taken away; labor struggles are mostly defensive–maintaining concessions won previously. Educational and social services funding is being reduced. Minority programs are whittled away or openly challenged. The federal government has practically nothing to offer the unemployed.

This is a capitalist attack, all right–and it is producing a response. The working class resists. We see it in the great strikes and the small, bitter ones. We see it in the wide-ranging movements opposing the Bakke decision, fascist laws, the nuclear industry, occupational death traps and the subjugation of women.

True, resistance is still scattered over many issues, but struggles will merge into mighty currents tomorrow (something revolutionaries should help to be achieved, not moan about).


We are in a period of sharpening class struggle. Pessimists see only half the struggle, only the capitalist attack. They are victims of a static, bourgeois outlook. The capitalist class has no alternative but to attack the working class’s life in every respect. And the workers are in struggle. Briefly, some of the characteristics of the struggle are these:

–Many broad sections of the working class are in struggle. Students no longer stand out as much as they did during the anti-war days. Workers strike. The anti-Bakke movement is both on campus and off. Government workers are in struggle as are workers of the private sector. Working women, both white collar and blue collar, want day care centers, equal pay for equal work, and more opportunity for training and advancement, as well as the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

–There is deep distrust and rejection of the official channels into which the capitalist class tries to divert politics. Congress is largely irrelevant to people’s needs and the actions people must carry out. Trade union officials are viewed as corrupt, often shouted down and regarded with contempt. President Carter is a hero to no one. Newspapers and television are read and watched cynically. The percentage of people who vote at elections is at a historical low point. Social consciousness is deeper.

–There is a sense of mutual support of each others’ struggles. Young people turned out to defend the retired workers of the International Hotel during a vicious police eviction. New connections between the labor and environmental movements emerge. The Bakke issue and others are legitimate subjects for debate and resolutions at union meetings. And it is all from below. The old liberal coalitions for electoral politics are off to the side of the current. The links are at the base, among concerned people in the grass roots of the various movements.


We must give our efforts to heightening these movements. Yet it is precisely this task about which the pessimists have nothing to say. The anti-dogmatists rail against “dogmatism”–instead of applying Marxism-Leninism to the United States revolution. Their criticisms of the Communist Party M-L or the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) are fruitless, whining, procedural criticisms. Marxist-Leninists disagree with the CP M-L and RCP, too–but on the important issues of revolutionary strategy. These issues are:

1. The class analysis of the United States. The great problem of uniting the working class cannot be solved unless we know who is a member of the working class. We must know the objective basis of petty bourgeois ideas among workers, who are still workers regardless of their outlook today. Strategies which are not based on a correct class analysis, such as the united front against imperialism in the U.S. pushed by the CPML, RCP and Guardian, split the working class and turn our attention away from the socialist goal. In practice by various groups, the united front strategy has become an excuse for both tag-along reformism and sectarianism.

2. The method of work for Marxist-Leninists among the masses. We should master the repeated process of making the workers’ struggle our struggles and taking the Marxist-Leninist outlook to the working class. The CP M-L and RCP have done very little of the elementary communist task of spreading class consciousness among the working class.

3. Fighting racism. It is necessary to combine the fight against racist oppression of black and other minority people (who are almost entirely workers) with the struggle for working-class unity. Only by a class analysis can we show all workers their immediate as well as long-range class interest in fighting racist discrimination and oppression. But the CP M-L, RCP and some anti-dogmatist groups, by using the false theory of a black nation in one jumbled version or another, cover up their anti-working-class line on the issue. They will never unite the working class with their approach.

The analysis of classes, a basic revolutionary strategy-and process for relating the Party to the working class, and the issue of racism are central questions facing Marxist-Leninists. They are at the core of the mass struggle in the United States today. Pessimism about the level of spontaneous struggle only avoids the issues.


Mass struggle is broad and on the rise. We are not in a revolutionary period yet by any means. But old limits of struggle have been surpassed. The workers question capitalism on a much broader scope than before. Now more than ever, it can be said that both the theory and practice of revolutionaries must answer to a splendid situation.