Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Chicago Worker Conference

Mobilizing for Bi-Weekly Worker

ACC Cover

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 15, December 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

What is the role of the Party press? What does it mean to make the Worker a social force? These questions and many more dealing with various aspects of the Worker newspaper were enthusiastically discussed at a recent local conference, sponsored by the Revolutionary Communist Party in Chicago.

The conference, called “The Role of the Party Press in the Struggle of the Working Class for Revolution,” was held to launch a major advance for the Worker for the Chicago-Gary area–publishing every two weeks instead of monthly. The meeting was built for broadly among advanced workers and other Party supporters and readers of the Worker. Over 85 people turned out to participate and to join in the task of building the bi-weekly Worker–a task that successfully began in November with the first local biweekly issue.

The Worker is now published locally in 19 cities across the country with a central news service, broadly putting forward the Party’s line to the masses of workers. Since the defeat of the Menshevik clique and after much struggle on the part of Party members to repudiate revisionism, including around the role of the Party press, a good situation is now developing where comrades are increasingly wielding the Worker as a weapon of the Party, carrying out revolutionary agitation among the broad masses and acting as tribunes of the people. For this work to continue to advance, the Worker has to come out more frequently and right now in Chicago this meant taking the step of going bi-weekly.

What was the key link to taking this step? This was a question of some struggle. One view is that the key link to going bi-weekly was that distribution must increase dramatically before the Worker could be put out bi-weekly. Distribution had increased and must increase still more. But this line reflected an incorrect grasp on the role of the Worker. It did not go from the starting point of the importance of carrying out broad exposures and the understanding that doing more timely exposures “hot on the heels” of the events in society was necessary to carry out this task better. And further, that being more timely, lively, topical, and useful to the proletariat and masses would spark further advances in distribution.

Political Line Key

Grasping the political line on the role of the Party press was key. What had to be grasped was the understanding that developing the Worker as a real force in the city–the voice of the Party among the broad masses–was necessary to advancing the work of the Party overall. Without strengthening this important weapon of the Party itself as a tribune of the people and an aid to Party members in carrying out communist agitation–living exposures of the capitalist system–revolutionary work among the masses could not advance in any area.

Only by uniting Party ranks together with Party supporters and other Worker readers around this political line was it possible to unleash the enthusiasm and initiative to carry out the task of developing the Worker as a weapon in the class struggle and further develop its revolutionary content. This was putting into practice what Mao called “Grasp revolution, promote production.” Not grasping this would mean mechanically grinding out the Worker every two weeks with no qualitative change made in our political work. This would not do. .. The situation called for a conference to deepen people’s understanding and to really involve and unite new forces around the Party’s line. It could not be merely an organizational meeting, with myriad committees and tasks parcelled out. The conference was planned to have the greatest amount of political discussion and struggle possible, and by drawing on everyone’s collective experience and ideas, to reach a deeper understanding by everyone involved, including the Worker’s editorial core and the Party as a whole.

The conference was also seen as crucial in winning people to come forward and join a broader staff for the local Worker– to work actively under the leadership of the Party, writing and reporting, organizing distribution, layout, graphics and photos, and developing El Obrero, the Spanish language section of the newspaper. Developing the staff was necessary not only to carry out the increased workload generated, by more frequent publication, but also has an important role in helping to strengthen the links between the masses of people and the Party’s paper, which in turn affects the content and influence of the paper. And working on the newspaper is certainly fertile ground for training the advanced workers and other revolutionary-minded people as communists.

Vision of Future

The conference hall was ringed with brightly colored posters–now appearing all over town–announcing the new bi-weekly Worker for the Chicago/Gary area. The main session opened with a slide show on the history of the communist and revolutionary press: the Russian workers in the years before the Revolution of 1917 gathered outside Pravda’s office in the early morning, risking arrest to distribute bundles of their paper before the Czar’s police could confiscate it... The Daily Worker calling on workers to down tools on May 1st to denounce the imperialist wars... The Black Panther in the late 1960s which popularized the teachings of Mao Tsetung and called on the masses to take up the gun to defend their communities from the marauding pigs.

These and other vivid examples from the past inspired people with a vision of the future and the vital responsibility the Worker has to carry out to become a powerful and thoroughly revolutionary force–to be taken up by the masses as their own.

Following this, a major speech given by a local leading member of the Party set the framework for the rest of the day. Particular attention was paid to the relationship of consciousness to the struggle of the working class for revolution. She pointed out the paper’s main role is in the realm of “consciousness” –that through agitation and other forms of exposure, the working class and the masses of people get a clearer all-around picture of the ugly features of the capitalist system, its reactionary nature and the need to overthrow it, and this understanding in turn advances the revolutionary struggle of the working class. “The Party press is essential to leading the masses to stay on the road to revolution, to take each twist and turn of the struggle and to continue to advance. The Party press, through showing the actual class relations, the truth of how this society operates and what’s the road to the future, fuels the desires of the masses to fight back and make revolution.”

Discussion in Workshops

By going deeply into the Party’s line on the role of the press, the main presentation laid the basis for people to really take part in the discussion which followed and in the workshops. After a brief break for lunch, people headed for the workshops on written content, distribution, El Obrero, and graphics, layout and photography.

For many people this was a new experience–the first time they had discussed the political significance of these things and how they could be developed to strengthen the Worker as a communist paper. The workshops were hubs of intense political discussion and struggle, as people welcomed the opportunity to get deeper into the political questions sparked by the presentation and to “get to the bottom of things.”

Discussion in the workshop on content centered mainly on the nature of agitation. What do we do agitation around? How do we do all-around exposure? And what is the relationship between the different articles in the paper and the Worker as a whole–how do we present a picture of the nature of capitalism and the need for revolution? Many people brought out examples from their experience in selling the Worker and how some of the sharpest agitation had sparked heated discussion and debate among the workers in their plants.

The layout workshop centered around the need to develop graphics and photographs with revolutionary content. People compared and discussed various examples of newspaper graphics from the bourgeois and revisionist press, and talked about how to more effectively use art in the Worker as a lively and powerful weapon in the hands of the proletariat. The distribution workshop concentrated on political struggle over what it means for the paper to become a social force and how would this be more achieved. And in the workshop on El Obrero, people took up the question of strengthening the Spanish language section of the paper, developing its life and initiative guided by the Party’s line and developing it as the face of the Party to the masses of Spanish speaking people.

People were still talking amongst themselves as the workshops ended and the conference reconvened for reports from the workshops and closing remarks. It was clear to all that the conference was a big success. People were politically armed and excited about the new bi-weekly Worker and taking up new questions with a higher level of understanding than before.

Off of the conference a number of advanced workers and other Party supporters came forward to work on the paper and it’s clear that many more people are looking at the Worker as their paper–the paper of their Party. Increasingly, people are eagerly taking on distribution of the paper and developing the content as well–recommending articles, and joining in writing, translating and other aspects of production.

The conference was a big step forward for the Worker in the Chicago/Gary area, putting the biweekly on a firm political basis and setting people’s sights high for further advances in the struggle to make the newspaper a powerful weapon in the Party’s arsenal for making revolution. As one comrade said at the conference, “We won’t be satisfied just with a biweekly Worker. We want a weekly Worker–and what a hell of a weapon a daily Party paper could be!”