Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

Book Review: Red Papers 8

First Published: The New Voice, Vol. VII, No. 16, August 7, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) split over the question of supporting the Communist Party of China. Red Papers 8 is a publication of the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters (RWH), the side that supports China.

By January 1977, the RCP’s silence after the fall of the “gang of four” represented opposition to the Communist Party of China (CPC). As The New Voice wrote, “This silence... is not support for socialist China; it is not a forthright Marxist-Leninist attitude in the heat of struggle; it is not proletarian internationalism. Instead, the slow wavering of the RCP is another of its opportunist maneuvers.” (TNV, Jan. 24, 1977)

The internal documents in Red Papers 8 confirm that the RCP’s chairman was against the CPC and for the “gang of four” practically from the day they fell. All of the RCP kept silent for 14 months. Then a split developed rapidly, and a side that really supports China appeared.

Most of this very long book (200 large, double-column, single-spaced pages of print) consists of internal RCP documents on China. The RWH papers take a firm stand in support of China, while stating that struggle within the CPC has not ended. This is the only correct stand. RCP Chairman Bob Avakian’s document attacking the CPC is given, too. His paper is almost barren of facts. It confuses the social basis for revisionism–differences between intellectuals and manual workers, between workers and peasants and between towns and the countryside–with the threat of immediate revisionist takeover of state power. The social basis of revisionism exists in any socialist society; this is unavoidable. But the threat of a revisionist takeover ebbs and flows. It can be prevented and has been prevented in China. As Avakian confuses these two things, he demonstrates great ability for making up hypotheses, explanations and excuses for his conclusions. This is typical of supporters of the “gang of four.” They have abandoned reality.

The Revolutionary Workers Headquarters charges that the Avakian clique sought to conduct the struggle around the issue of China because it was relatively more theoretical as “Avakian preferred to operate, without the intrusion of the depressing reality of practice.” (p. 11) Yet Red Papers 8 follows Avakian by dealing mostly (80%) with the issue of China.

Nevertheless, other questions divided the RCP. One is the issue about which Lenin wrote his classic, What Is To Be Done?–“the fundamental question of the role of Social-Democrats [communists today] in relation to the spontaneous mass movement.” (WITBD?, p. 4)

The RWH book is not very valuable on the question of revolutionary strategy to anyone outside the RCP. Although its tone suggests that the RWH knows how to formulate and carry out revolutionary strategy, it actually has very little either of theory or of practical guidance on the subject. Two major examples of work are discussed and compared: the RCP’s July 4, 1976 demonstration in Philadelphia, led by the people who now belong to the RWH, and the National United Workers Organization (NUWO), which was under Avakian’s direction. Many allegations are made about differences in the internal leadership of the two campaigns, but what is the observable result? The Bicentennial demonstration drew 3000 people; the NUWO convention drew 1500. The Bicentennial work did not try to form an organization, while NUWO was supposed to be founded as a continuing organization–hardly a fair comparison of tasks. What emerges is that the RCP and the RWH-to-be both put on sizeable events, but that is all.

The RWH endorses a number of positions of the old RCP. It upholds the strategy of a “united front against imperialism” in the U.S. This is the strategy that splits the working class into various petty bourgeois, intermediate and national sections and then pretends to ally them. The RWH ignores the strategy of forming the great unity of the working class, the overwhelming majority of the population in the U.S. And the RWH endorses the RCP’s positions on intermediate workers organizations, a dispersed black nation, “Worker” newspapers, the class analysis in the RCP Programme, and the “single spark method” of fanning workers’ struggle without proper basebuilding and preparation.

The RWH also regards first the RCP and now itself as the only group in the communist movement, continuing the RCP tradition of ignoring unity among communists. Many people in the United States support China and rejoice in the Chinese people’s victory over the “gang of four.” But they are often not involved in the communist movement. For communists, the crucial thing is to analyze classes in the U.S., define a revolutionary strategy and apply it to key contradictions such as racism. Support for the dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary for any communist group, but it is not sufficient for a group to lead the revolution in the United States.

The New Voice supports China. Furthermore, it has elaborated a class analysis (see Classes in the United States, by our member Charles Loren) and a revolutionary strategy (see our pamphlets Revolutionary Strategy in the United States and Three Key Points). Our broad practice, this newspaper and other pamphlets represent a concrete development and application of this revolutionary strategy.

Red Papers 8 firmly supports China, which is good. But the attempt to mix in a claim to have clarified revolutionary strategy in the U.S. is misleading. In fact, the RWH has so far said very little about this vital topic.