Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

New Programme and New Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

(Drafts for Discussion)


Culture, too–literature and art, drama, music, movies, etc.–and the mass media in general, play an enormously powerful role in shaping public opinion and promoting one kind of outlook and values or another. Anyone who has ever been moved to tears or anger, had their hopes and sights raised or lowered and who in one way or another has been moved or provoked to action by these things–and there is almost no one who has not had this experience–knows very well that this is true. But what is not always apparent, and what in fact the bourgeoisie goes to great lengths to cover up, is that all works of culture–and all “newscasting,” etc. as well–serve one class or another (so long as society is divided into classes) and promote the outlook and values of a particular class and the form of society that corresponds to its interests. It is impossible for them not to. And, despite the tireless efforts of the bourgeoisie to conceal it–and to deny that there is any class nature to culture in general–the cultural productions it churns out and widely disseminates, as much as the crude propaganda it calls “objective news reporting,” represent a powerful ideological weapon aimed against the proletariat and masses of people. In fact, they serve the bourgeoisie all the more effectively and insidiously the more they are able to camouflage the class nature of this, because in this way the bourgeoisie can present its reactionary outlook and values–racism, chauvinism, nationalism, self-seeking careerism, “look out for number one,” pragmatic concern only for your own narrow and immediate interests, and all the rest, including the degeneracy that corresponds to the nature of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, especially in their period of decay and decline–as universal and eternal expressions of an unchanging “human nature,” which dictates that society will always be divided into exploiters and exploited. And so long as the bourgeoisie rules society and therefore has domination over the media and the means of producing and disseminating culture, the dominant culture and the outlook and values promoted by it will play such a powerful role in serving the reactionary interests of that class and its system.

For all these reasons, the proletariat, as it seizes power, must immediately seize control of the mass media and move decisively to establish its domination over culture as a whole.

This is not a simple question or a problem easily resolved. People in general demand cultural works because they do present a picture that is higher than life itself and do inspire, or at least impel, people toward one goal or another. Life without such works would be extremely dull and dismal–and in fact it is impossible to imagine this, because people will always bring forward cultural works in one form or another, precisely because of the function they do serve. Further, in the U.S., with its highly developed means of communication, the masses of people have become accustomed to and demand a large quantity and variety of such works. If the proletariat, upon taking control of society, were not able to meet this demand fairly quickly, it would not be able to maintain power–the masses would not support the proletarian state for long if it failed to do this. At the same time, the effect of bourgeois culture on the masses is to further demoralize and degrade them, and objectively the greater the quantity and the higher the artistic/technical level of this culture, the worse it is. The masses need, most of all, cultural works that enable them to realize their real interests–to revolutionize society–and their ability to do so, and that arouse them to fight for this goal. But producing cultural works, with not only a revolutionary content but also a high level of artistic and technical quality, requires not only the guidance of a correct line and sharp struggle, both ideological and practical, but also people, and more than a few, with the training in the various skills necessary for this. For this reason, and as part of its overall strategic orientation, the proletariat in power must and will unite as broadly as possible with people in the artistic fields who are willing to apply themselves to producing cultural works that serve the interests of the proletariat and promote the socialist transformation of society. And in doing so it will have to take into account the fact that many of them earned rather large–and in some cases very large–incomes from their performances in the old society, and will have to apply the same kind of policy toward them in this regard as it does toward technical and scientific personnel, and intellectuals, in general, trained and employed in the old society.

Among these more or less professional cultural performers, the proletariat will seek to unite with most firmly, rely on and bring forward those who have played a progressive, in some cases a consciously revolutionary, role. Even today, in the face of the extreme pressure and at times outright repression–not excluding murder–that the bourgeoisie uses against artists, where the allure of wealth and fame does not work to keep them from bringing forth progressive works and playing a progressive role in general, more than a few fight back against this and some have made important contributions to the development of the struggle against the imperialist system. Many more will do so as the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and the united front under its leadership develops, and especially as things approach and then reach the level of the all-out battle for power. A large number of artists, even among the more highly paid, are dissatisfied with and by various means resist the ways in which culture is prostituted to the needs and demands of the bourgeoisie and the imperialist system. While few are actually revolutionaries, and even fewer conscious communists, on the other hand only a minority are warhorses and outright flunkies for imperialism and the bourgeoisie like John Wayne, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis, Jr. When the proletariat seizes power, and as it undertakes the gigantic task and struggle of transforming culture and establishing the dominance and widespread dissemination of cultural works meeting the demands of the masses not only for quantity, variety and high artistic and technical standards but also, and more fundamentally, for content that inspires and further unleashes them to gain mastery over and revolutionize every sphere of society, it will be both necessary and possible to unite and struggle with significant numbers of professional cultural workers from the old society to accomplish this task.

At the same time, and even more importantly, the proletarian state will support, bring forward and rely on the masses of workers and their firmest allies in creating and popularizing revolutionary culture. Even under capitalism, for all that it crushes and degrades the masses and seeks to reduce them to a mere animal-like existence, attempting to suffocate any higher aspirations or broader vision than the daily struggle for survival and a place on the capitalist treadmill, nevertheless among the masses of workers, oppressed peoples and others, many different forms and works of culture are continually created which–even if, spontaneously, they do not have a revolutionary content and generally mistake the source of suffering in society and present both problems and solutions in terms that are Utopian, individualistic, etc.–still overwhelmingly speak to basic problems and concerns of millions of people and strongly reflect their yearning for a way out of them, and even attempt to forge such a way. The bourgeoisie itself has to reckon with and draw from all this in producing its cultural works–only, of course, to concentrate what is limited and incorrect in the masses’ spontaneous views, what itself reflects the influence of bourgeois ideological domination, and hurl it back at the masses in a barrage of reactionary cultural ammunition. But, on the other hand, as it builds its revolutionary movement toward the overthrow of capitalism, and much more fully when it achieves that goal and seizes power, the proletariat, with the leadership of the Party, can and will draw much more deeply on the cultural works and forms created by the masses, concentrate what is correct, what represents their desire for an end to the torment and indignity that capitalism means, and synthesize out of all this a revolutionary content, infused with the outlook and lofty aims of the proletariat. And in turn, the class-conscious proletariat and the proletarian state, with the Party at the head, will lead the masses in taking these up as their own, popularizing them broadly and further developing them.

In order to achieve this, and to carry out the struggle on the cultural front in general, the role of advanced, revolutionary cultural workers, emerging from among the basic masses and from among the professional artists, is extremely important. The class-conscious proletariat will give active support to such forces. More than that it will lead the broader ranks of the working class and the masses generally to wage a fierce struggle against the attempts of the bourgeoisie to crush them and in various ways prevent their influence from being felt broadly in society; this is an important part of the class struggle under capitalism, and with the overthrow of capitalism and establishment of the proletarian state, the role of such revolutionary cultural workers, both in educating and inspiring the masses through their work and as models for cultural workers in general, will assume even greater significance. So, too, the creation and popularizing, under the overall guidance of the Party’s line, of model cultural works in various forms–with a powerful revolutionary content and artistic style and quality that will meet the demands of and be embraced by the masses–will play a very important part in waging the class struggle on the cultural front and, with the seizure of power by the proletariat, in revolutionizing culture as a whole.

With such advanced cultural workers and model cultural works as a vital force and influence, the proletarian state will actively promote the creation of revolutionary culture, in various forms and styles, both by professional cultural workers and by the broad masses themselves. Cultural productions by professional artists will be staged throughout the country, including at workplaces and in the workers’ neighborhoods, for free or at a minimal price of admission. Beyond this, part-time cultural groups will be organized in the factories, neighborhoods, on the farms, etc., as well as in the armed forces, to both popularize more broadly the works produced by the professional artists and to unleash and give direction to the creativity of the workers and other basic masses in producing revolutionary culture.

Further, the professional artists will be led and assisted in linking themselves with the masses of working people, both to learn from their experiences and ideas in creating cultural works and to assist the masses themselves in creating them. This will include taking part in productive labor together with the workers and, more than that, taking part together with them in political movements and ideological struggle. Some of the professional artists, especially those trained in the old society, will resist this–and a few will be incorrigible reactionaries who will have to be swept off the stage altogether and forced to accept the rule of the proletariat and its transformation of society–but most can be won to this policy and many will welcome it and enthusiastically apply themselves to carrying it out. The method of the proletariat with regard to the professional artists in general, including those trained in the new society as well as those in the old, will be to unite with them, struggle with them to combat the elitist tendencies and bourgeois ideology in general that tend to be fostered by their position, win and lead them in applying their acquired skills and talents to serve the proletarian revolution and in the process remold their style of life and their thinking in accordance with the principles and aims of this revolution. In this way, and more fundamentally by the Party and state leading and supporting the masses of working people themselves to both create cultural works and to criticize and in an overall sense supervise the creations and work of the professional artists, the masses themselves will gain mastery over culture and fight to bring about the victory of socialism over capitalism in this crucial sphere.

But victory in this arena, and in society as a whole, will only be possible for the proletariat if it correctly carries out the policy of destroying the old and creating the new. With regard to culture in particular, this means organizing mass criticism to expose and repudiate the reactionary culture, and especially the more influential reactionary cultural works, of the bourgeoisie and on the other hand to develop and wield revolutionary culture as a key weapon in attacking the outlook and values of capitalism and the bourgeoisie and promoting those of the proletariat. One very important aspect of this, as in education and other spheres, is the struggle against the various forms of racism, national chauvinism and other such ideological poison, including the idea of male supremacy. In addition to exposing and rallying people to fight against them, and upholding revolutionary class solidarity and proletarian internationalism, through criticism and the creation and popularization of revolutionary cultural works in general, a key question for the proletariat, spoken to earlier, is actually establishing equality between different national forms of culture. Without this it will be impossible to achieve overall equality between different nationalities, to unite the proletariat, together with its allies, on the basis of its revolutionary interests and to maintain the rule of the working class and carry forward its historic mission.

It is for these reasons that the proletariat wages the fight for equality of languages and national cultures as an important part of building its revolutionary movement toward the overthrow of capitalism; and, with the overthrow of capitalism, the proletarian state will actively promote such equality. Specifically, cultural works produced in one language will be translated into the other languages, performers will learn several different languages and to put on performances and create works in these various languages, and the masses of different nationalities will be encouraged to learn from the forms and styles characteristic of each other’s nationality. With regard to culture and language, autonomy will mean, among other things, that the styles, forms and expressions, as well as the language, common to people of a particular nationality will be given priority in publications, in the creation of cultural works, etc., within those geographic areas where autonomy is applied, and these will be popularized throughout society as well. Most fundamentally, the many different national forms will be utilized and given full expression to create a powerful cultural arsenal of the proletariat, rich in diversity but expressing a unified revolutionary content and inspiring the masses of all nationalities to fight for their common revolutionary interests.

What has been said here applies in general to sports as well, which is also part of culture, broadly speaking. Today, sports is subordinate to the economic and political dictates of capitalism and the bourgeoisie and is utilized by the ruling class to promote and glorify imperialist plunder and power politics (“America number one”) and the capitalist values of competition above cooperation and “winning” above all (“the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”) and to propagandize and instill the sense of loyalty and blind obedience to company and country and the military discipline enforced by the bourgeoisie both in its armed forces and in its factories, schools and other facets of life. And sports under capitalism fosters the division of labor and outlook characteristic of and required by capitalism–in particular the separation between a handful of professional heroes and the masses, who are largely reduced to the role of spectators. Not only is sports not separate from or “above” politics, it is a major political and ideological weapon of the bourgeoisie.

The proletariat, too, as it takes control of society, and of sports as a part of that, will develop sports as a weapon to promote its outlook and values and the social and political relationships that serve its revolutionary interests. Sports will be broadly organized among the masses, and equally among women and men, with facilities built and located throughout the areas where they live and work, beginning with the upgrading and new construction of facilities in the areas which under capitalism are most broken down and with the fewest and worst playgrounds, recreation centers, etc. Emphasis will be placed not on the professional arena, but on the playgrounds, where mass participation will be centered, and the creativity of the masses in sports activity will be unleashed and developed further. Cooperation and the learning of skills and innovations from each other will be emphasized in sports, while friendly competition is given secondary place, enabling the masses to take part broadly and contributing to their overall health as well as recreation. These will be the approaches and values guiding the sports activities within the socialist state and in exchanges between it and other countries–fostering and strengthening the unity and solidarity between the masses of people here and internationally.

For a period of time, national sports teams and even some professional athletics, sponsored and subsidized by the state, will be retained, but this will be given second place–in resources allocated and attention devoted–to the mass sports activities in the schools, neighborhoods, factories, farms, etc. The whole “professional mentality”–the notion that those engaged in sports as a more or less full-time pursuit, and subsidized to one degree or another in order to be able to do so, somehow deserve a superior social position–will be criticized and struggled against; and, of course, the control of sports by capitalists and the prostitution of sports to private profit and the treatment of the athletes as merely a means to that end will be abolished along with the absolute authority of coaches, etc. The same basic approach taken toward professional artists will be applied here, too–with the aim of narrowing step by step the differences between the full-time professional performers and the masses of people–involving the professionals in productive labor and political struggle together with the masses and leading them to play an active role in assisting the development of mass sports activities throughout society and in taking part in these activities together with the masses as well. Sports will no longer represent the desperate hope of millions to escape from a lifetime of poverty and oppression–a hope cruelly frustrated and dashed for the great majority by the very workings and values of capitalism, to which everything in this society, including sports, is subjected–but instead the new society, created through the struggle of the proletariat and in its image as a class, will eliminate such poverty and oppression and transform all spheres, including sports, into vehicles through which the tens and tens of millions formerly oppressed can unite to realize their higher interests and to advance humanity as a whole.

In sum, destruction of the old and creation of the new culture will mean that, as the proletariat seizes political power and control over the media and cultural spheres broadly, it will immediately suppress the most decadent and openly reactionary cultural productions of the bourgeoisie, and then move as rapidly as possible to criticize and expose the class nature of bourgeois cultural works in general and replace them with the culture representing the revolutionary proletariat, a culture of a qualitatively different nature and on a far higher level than bourgeois culture or anything else that has preceded it. Swept from the stage, in this sphere and overall, will be the domination of the representatives of the exploiting classes and their lackeys and enforcers down through the ages, and in their place will arise the real makers of history, the true heroes and the masters of the modern age–the masses of people, with the proletariat in the forefront.