Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

D.C. Jobs Gathering

Reformism–Key Link in CP(ML) Campaign

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First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 6, March 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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If one were to merge CPUSA revisionism with Keynesian bourgeois economics and apply it to the question of unemployment the result would be something like this: Most of the misery and economic hardship of the masses is the result of unemployment. It is therefore necessary to do away with unemployment. War, which is the capitalists’ traditional solution to the problem, is unacceptable to the masses. What is necessary is for people to get organized in large numbers and pressure the government to create enough jobs to eliminate unemployment and all the misery it causes.

For those who may wonder why we would concoct such a merger and report its results, we assure you it is no mere diversion to pass the time. Believe it or not, in the real world there exists an organization which for the last five months has carried out conscientiously and in a determined manner the very line summarized above.

We are referring, of course, to the CP(ML), whose recent campaign for Jobs or Income Now (JOIN) proved once again that ideological acrobatics can occasionally draw a crowd. (Though apparently not as big a crowd as they had hoped, since they found it necessary to embellish reality somewhat by reporting in the Call that their February 18 demonstration drew 2200 people, when in fact about a thousand were there. Given their long history of distortions and outright lies, this latest example reveals nothing new except, perhaps, the limits of CP(ML)’s imagination. They could just as easily have reported 5000.)

Throughout the entire campaign the CP(ML) assured all who were interested that it was “targeting the system” in its fight for jobs. But close scrutiny of the Call from the beginning of the campaign to the end reveals that their disjointed organ gives “the system” kid glove treatment.

Take, for example, the quote from a CP(ML) representative in Washington. DC: “All the problems that people face relate in one way or another to the lack of jobs and to attacks on people’s living standards.” And this from his fellow JOIN organizer: “We’ll be fighting every day, every week in every city we can to get the people some jobs.” (Call, Jan. 30, p. 3) Feel U.S. imperialism reeling from the blow of this devastating thunderbolt! These opportunists have rendered both revisionism and Keynesianism less profound!

Actually, all this has a familiar ring to it. The CP (ML)–and the OL before it–has always presented whatever campaign they happened to be taking up at the time to be “the main source of all the problems people face.” Many remember the OL’s notorious “Dump Nixon–Stem The Fascist Tide” campaign of a few years back. All areas of mass work were channeled into this reformist move to “unparalyze Congress” and force some imaginary progressive section of the bourgeoisie to put a leash on the “fascist section.” While the “fascist tide” never reached the shore, it is safe to say that the OL had nothing to do with its failure to arrive.

Now unemployment is the new “main source of all the problems” and once again the CP(ML) musters every force it can, gearing all its mass work toward pressuring the government, this time to “get the people some jobs.”

Through all of OL-CP(ML)’s ping pong development back and forth between open rightism and “left-”dogmatism, the fundamental and pervasive rightist essence shines through for all to see.

CP(ML)’s “United Front”

These Browderites may cry “foul!” but the only thing foul about it is the very line itself. Their whole campaign, and the JOIN Coalition they formed to carry it out, supposedly represents the ultimate in “united front work.” But what does “united front” mean? Does it mean, as we say in our Party’s Programme, ”. . . that at each stage of the struggle the proletariat isolates the main enemy [the U.S. monopoly capitalists] to the greatest degree possible, by concentrating its attack on that enemy, and unites all who can be united against the enemy”? No, indeed. According to the CP(ML) it means “bringing together people from a wide spectrum of political beliefs” (Call, February 27, 1978) to fight for a particular demand, in this case the demand for jobs.

It is true that in building the united front under the leadership of the working class and its Party, people of varying political persuasions will become actively involved. But to make this a principle and the primary method of your mass work as CP(ML) does is a common feature of revisionists of all stripes. And the idea that proletarian ideology and politics can actually influence and lead such a hodge-podge is totally out of the question.

In fact the roots of this perversion of the concept of “united front against imperialism” go back a long way. In the days of RYM 2 and the formation of the October League, Klonsky criticized the RU for recognizing the united front against imperialism under the leadership of the proletariat as the strategy for revolution in the U.S. Instead, Klonsky held that the united front could only be a tactic to bring together different forces around a particular issue. Ironically enough, they criticized the RU line as a cover for the Anti-Monopoly Coalition of the CP, which is based on uniting diverse groups and individuals, not for the purpose of advancing the revolutionary struggle, but for reforms.

While they long ago changed their formulation, the CP(ML) never altered the essence of their line on the united front. Instead of a strategy through which “the proletariat and its Party is able to win over the great majority of society to fight for revolution, as the conditions for revolution ripen, and the masses recognize that revolution is the only road forward” (RCP Programme), the CP(ML) sees it only as a tactic for winning reforms. It is this essence which makes the CP(ML)’s “united front” a genuine replica of the CP’s “Anti-Monopoly Coalition.”

But while the CP(ML) is most akin to the CPUSA politically, their organizational approach borrows at least as heavily from the long-discredited methods of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party during the anti-Vietnam war movement. The SWP always sought to have as many endorsements as possible for their activities, regarding this as the key link in mobilizing the masses. In particular, they went after those with big names and “heavy” reputations, regardless of what role they play in the struggle. Of course, the SWP carried this to the criminal extreme of inviting big time imperialist spokesmen–however the CP(ML) is not enough of a force to attract these types.

For the CP(ML), the compilation of lists becomes a substitute for their “united front.” This is no mere assertion, for the CP(ML)’s practice over the past few months provides living proof. They flaunt a list of “over 200 groups and individuals” who agree that unemployment is a problem and people should have jobs. (Of course, there is nothing wrong with this sentiment, In fact nearly 200 million people in this country and untold thousands of organizations would wholeheartedly agree.) But rather than risk scaring them away by providing revolutionary leadership to these people (not that they ever could) the CP(ML) takes a random sampling of them and publishes their statements in various editions of the Call, as positive examples, one must assume, for the masses to learn from. As a result, we get such gems as the idea that we can “keep on marching ’till we get socialism” or that “when we get all the poor together, we will have a revolution.” (One wonders what type of “revolution” the CP(ML) is trying to promote, since this last quote is attributed to a member of Stokeley Carmichael’s bourgeois-nationalist All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party, that openly holds that the future for Black people in the U.S. will be decided in Africa! It seems that the Browderites will accommodate with any ragged line.)

CP(ML)’s Reformism

And if the CP(ML) tries to argue that this tripe represents only the views of the people quoted, then why don’t they put forward their own substantially different and scientifically revolutionary views? Their line comes out alright, but if anything it is worse than the idiocy quoted above. For example, this helpful hint to the bourgeoisie from a “JOIN activist”: “. . . break the work week down to fewer hours a week. That way more people could work. And if we don’t take any pay cuts, then those of us with jobs don’t have to suffer.” (From the article “Tell The People We Can Fight And Win Jobs!”, Call, Jan. 30, p. 3) Or this from our D.C. representative of CP(ML): “.. . it’s not enough to say that you yourself have a job today ... you may not have a job tomorrow and then you’ll be out in the streets.” Could there be any clearer denial than this of the class basis for the unity of employed and unemployed? Must you appeal to the most narrow self-interest of employed workers in order to drag them reluctantly into the struggle!?

If the CP(ML) wants to wave the February 20th edition of the Call in front of us and claim that nothing previous to it counts we will gladly take them up on it. Here, for the first time, we are treated to not one, but two articles designed to throw a thin “Marxist” veneer over the utterly reformist line they have been pushing for months. Now that they have assembled their crowd on the streets of D.C., now that they no longer have to worry about scaring anyone away (after all, no one will read the new Call until after the demonstration– if at all), only now does CP(ML) cough up some quotes from Marx’s Capital and make a lame attempt to apply them to today’s conditions. This is their idea of giving proletarian leadership to the United Front!

But it just won’t wash. For in their rousing finale (entitled “Fight For Jobs–A Communist View”) we are treated to nothing more than a tired rehashing of the same reformist trash, with a few statements aimed at covering up what the CP(ML) had been doing: ̶We must resist the efforts of the imperialists and their agents to sow illusions about ’reforming’ capitalism, and instead build our movement with the perspective of overthrowing it.” But most of the article is undisguised rightism. It even resurrects the tattered reformist slogan “Jobs Not War!”, which they claim poses the only alternative to “the imperialists’ solution to unemployment–another war. ..” Apparantly an example of how the CP(ML) is combatting “illusions about reforming capitalism!”

The CP(ML) Jobs campaign exemplifies graphically the fact that these reformists are working to reconstitute the old CPUSA as it was before it went thoroughly revisionist, while keeping (and raising to a principle) all the rightism which eventually led to its total degeneration. They even presented as the CP(ML) speaker Odis Hyde, that Browderite relic from the past, who promised to arise from his grave and shout “hallelujah!” once “social justice” is established in this country. A fitting ending to CP(ML)’s reformist road show.

As a final note, it is interesting (and predictable) that a small handful of phonies posing as the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee (UWOC) and the National United Workers Organization (NUWO) attended this reformist parade. We assume these were some former members or followers of the RCP who left the revolutionary struggle to dabble in Menshevism. Both UWOC and the NUWO have made it clear that they did not endorse or participate in the CP(ML) charade, and both are justifiably angry that these imposters would try so crudely to deceive the masses and slander the two organizations. For any honest revolutionaries who may have been under the influence of these charlatans for any length of time, this should serve to further expose the nature and depth of their political depravity.