Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

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

(Drafts for Discussion)

A United Front Under Its Leadership Is The Proletariat’s Strategy For Revolution

In order to actually make proletarian revolution, it is necessary to not only understand the basic nature and objective of that revolution and to grasp the relationship between the two basic forces that battle it out through the course of the revolution–the proletariat and the bourgeoisie–but also to analyze and deal with the other important forces in society, so as to be able to unite with or at least neutralize the greatest number, isolate the enemy to the greatest degree and strike the most powerful blows against it. On a world scale, the proletariat in the U.S. has as its closest allies the workers of all countries and the revolutionary movements of the oppressed peoples and nations–and it is of decisive importance for the proletariat, especially in an imperialist country, to firmly unite and fight side by side with these allies. But it is also of crucial importance to determine which forces within the U.S. itself can be firmly united with, which can be won over or at least neutralized and which must be uncompromisingly struggled against and defeated in the process of proletarian revolution. This requires and depends upon a scientific estimate of the various classes and strata, as well as other significant social forces, within the U.S.–their position and role in this country at this stage, and specifically how they are being and will be affected by the present and deepening crisis–and therefore what will be their attitude toward and relationship to the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and in particular the highest stage of that struggle, the armed contest for power.

While the bourgeoisie is obviously the enemy of the proletariat and the target of the proletarian revolution, it is necessary to examine the main features of this class in the U.S. today–which in fact it attempts to conceal in order to deny its domination of society and the magnitude of its crimes. And it is also necessary to determine which are the forces the bourgeoisie can and will rely on in its attempt to preserve its rule and prevent and defeat proletarian revolution.

Because capitalism in the U.S. has long since developed into its imperialist stage, the bourgeoisie in this country is characterized not by a fairly large number of small-scale owners managing their own enterprise with a few dozen or even a few hundred workers, but a small handful who hold the controlling interest in huge monopolies and financial institutions–banks, insurance companies and the large industrial corporations–which completely dominate the economy of the country, despite the widely propagated fairy tales to the contrary. Today in the U.S. the top 200 corporations control nearly 2/3 of the industrial assets; the 10 largest banks control outright 25% of bank capital and dominate another 50% through their holding companies and affiliates. A mere 1% of the population controls 1/2 the total investment assets. And the finance capitalists in the U.S. have huge holdings throughout the world–controlling somewhere between $150-200 billion in direct investments alone (that is, not counting loans and other forms) in other countries.

These imperialists have both an interest and a necessity in not only maintaining but intensifying and expanding this exploitation and plunder at home and abroad, and of course in preserving at all costs the system that both allows and forces them to do so. Now they are preparing greater attacks on the masses and the monstrous crime of world war in the attempt to preserve their system and dominant position in the world. Ask no mercy and give none in return–this is the only method the proletariat can employ in dealing with them. And, in general, the bourgeoisie as a whole–including the numerically greater but less dominant and less significant capitalists who do not have controlling interests in monopolies and large financial institutions or major international investments, but who do depend for their income on the labor of their employees and accumulate very large sums in the process–will ruthlessly attack any attempt to abolish the system that is based on the exploitation of labor by capital and will tirelessly attempt to restore this system once it has been overthrown; this class must be violently overthrown and forcefully suppressed by the proletarian revolution and the proletarian dictatorship.

Also within the enemy camp and part of the target of the proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship are the loyal political agents and enforcers of the bourgeoisie and its dictatorship: big-time politicians, high-ranking military officers, heads of the government bureaucracies and in general those who willingly perform the role of suppressing and terrorizing the masses of people–the police, judges, prison officials, etc. While a very few individuals among these groups, (and among the bourgeoisie itself) may desert that class and actually come over to the side of the proletariat, as a whole their position and role in society conditions and requires them to treat the masses of people as bitter enemies; the masses can only respond accordingly, and if they did not they would condemn themselves to remain slaves and condemn the proletarian revolution to failure. In the same category as the above groups are the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class at the heads of the unions, whose position and generally high salaries–and not insignificant investment opportunites–are the direct product of the exploitation of the mass of workers in this country and still more so the superexpolitation and plunder in other countries, especially the colonial countries and oppressed nations. They play a special role in the bourgeoisie’s machinery of political domination over the working class and in spreading its chauvinist propaganda and general ideological poison among the ranks of the workers; and this role will be even more significant as the situation and the class struggle sharpen. Certainly such crucial service to imperialism should not go unrewarded–and it definitely will find a just reward when the proletariat rises in revolution and seizes power!

The working class, of course, is the main and leading force in the proletarian revolution. It is characterized by its propertyless, exploited condition–deprived of ownership of the means of production and forced to work to enrich capital in order to live. It is the largest class in the U.S. today, making up altogether a great majority of the labor force and (including families) of the total population. In large part it is highly concentrated and its labor highly socialized. But within the working class there are a number of different groups and strata, and this has significance for the proletarian revolution.

The backbone of the working class and most decisive force in the proletarian revolution is the industrial proletariat–generally the productive workers (as opposed to supervisory and management personnel) in manufacturing and other basic industry, including utilities, mining, construction and transportation. While the number of such workers has in fact been declining relative to the other sections of the working class and the total work force–and this is a sign of the decay and parasitism of capitalism in its imperialist stage–the notion, deliberately and extensively propagated by the bourgeoisie, that this basic industrial proletariat is shrinking in size absolutely (or even is insignificant today, as the extreme version of this propaganda goes) is completely false. In fact, it has continued to grow slightly and today numbers around 21 million, between 1/5 and 1/4 of the total labor force. The heart of the industrial proletariat–assembly line workers and other operatives and laborers in basic industry, as opposed to craftsmen and others whose work is more skilled and individualized–makes up the great majority of the industrial workers, numbering over 14 million. Further, the industrial proletariat is highly socialized–far more so than other sections of the working class–40% of industrial workers are in workplaces employing over 500 and 27% in plants of over 1000.

Another notion, propagated even more vigorously and incessantly by the bourgeoisie and its ideological spokesmen, is that the working class in this country, and specifically the industrial workers, are highly-paid, living comfortably–in fact, fat, contented and ignorant fools, willing slaves of the bourgeoisie and staunch supporters of imperialism, who wouldn’t have it any other way. While it is true that, with its world-wide plunder and superprofits, and especially with its top-dog position coming off World War 2, the ruling class in the U.S. has passed along crumbs from the spoils to the working class at home–and this has undeniably had an effect in pacifying significant sections of the workers over this period–this must be dug into more deeply and examined in its contradictory nature and its motion and development. The fact is that over half the full-time workers in the U.S. earn less than the government’s own yardstick for a low standard of living (in 1976, over half made less than $10,000 a year and nearly 30% less than $7,000). Further, these full-time workers are only about 60% of the total labor force–there are tens of millions more who work only part-time and of course earn significantly less. More specifically, the average spendable weekly wages of production workers in manufacturing in 1979 was only about $200.

On the other hand, however, it is the case that the wages of workers in such decisive industries as steel, auto and machine-production, as well as mining, oil and others, are generally higher than this average. And a small minority among these workers (as well as some other sections of the working class) have been able to make some income from means other than their own labor, including very small-scale investments in stocks, real estate, etc., and even in some cases to go into business for themselves–though many have been ruined and forced back into the working class.

This higher level of income is the result not only of the struggles of these workers but even more so of a conscious policy on the part of the imperialists and their agents in the period since the 1930s Depression and World War 2.

Before that time, the mass of unskilled workers in these and other basic industries suffered extreme conditions of exploitation and severe poverty; they were largely unorganized and the capitalists viciously resisted attempts at unionization among them. But, through the depths of the 1930s Depression, militant struggle erupted throughout basic industry which–despite the fact that, spontaneously and also through the erroneous line of the Communist Party, it remained almost entirely limited to economic questions–seriously threatened the bourgeoisie. Finally, recognizing (better that the Communist Party perhaps) the potential revolutionary role of these workers, and unable to forcibly suppress this mass struggle for unionization, the capitalists conceded to it and maneuvered to contain and control it and the unions it produced. Then, on the basis of its strengthened position coming off World War 2, and assisted by the total degeneration of the Communist Party, the bourgeoisie both strengthened the domination of its labor lieutenants at the heads of these (and other) unions and provided a significantly higher standard of living, if only for a time, for a sizeable section of the basic industrial workers–often, however, through schemes that benefitted one section of the workers at the expense of another, such as agreements that allowed for the reduction of the work force in an industry over a period of time in exchange for raising the wages of those still remaining. While there was resistance to this, in the late 1940s and even throughout the 1950s and ’60s–the heyday of U.S. imperialism–it was by and large crushed and the capitalists were in the main able to succeed with this policy.

Overwhelmingly in this period the trade unions in the U.S. have become a reactionary political machine. This does not mean that the task or goal is to smash the unions. Rather, when and to the degree that trade unions become arenas and vehicles of class struggle involving masses of workers, it is absolutely necessary for communists to work among them, to unite with but more than that to influence and lead these masses of workers in a revolutionary direction, mainly through revolutionary agitation and propaganda.

Obviously, however, the position of U.S. imperialism as well as its specific policies over the past several decades, and the consequences of all this, including the living standards of many workers and the nature of the trade unions in general, have had a significant effect in retarding the development of a revolutionary movement among the working class. But during the last ten years and more, with U.S. imperialism and its whole bloc plunged into a downward spiral of crisis, and both superpowers and their respective allies driven toward world war, the ability of the U.S. imperialists to make concessions to the working class has been drying up and the standard of living of the workers, including the basic industrial workers, has been coming under attack in various ways. While today a significant section of these workers (and some others) are still able to make an income above the government-declared low standard of living (and in some cases above its “intermediate” standard), more and more this is only upon the condition that both husband and wife work–which is impossible for a large number of families, both because there is not that extent of employment available, especially for women, and because the woman’s wages frequently do not add that much income relative to the additional costs of child care, etc. And on top of this, the degree of debt burden on the working class–and on other strata of the people–is truly staggering: slightly over 1/5 of the workers’ after-tax income is taken by repayments, including interest. Add to this the acceleration of social decay during this period, and the actual situation of the mass of workers, including the majority of the industrial proletariat, begins to emerge and its direction becomes clear.

All this, of course, does not mean that the majority of the workers in the decisive industries, or the industrial proletariat and the working class as a whole, are yet faced with the desperate conditions marking a revolutionary situation and are in a revolutionary mood. For that, the depth of crisis must be such that society as a whole is convulsed in it and the stability and tolerability of the situation of the masses is not only being shaken but shattered. But here again, and specifically in relation to the basic industrial proletariat, the direction of things is clear–and was sharply indicated by the 1974-75 recession, when the official unemployment rate among manufacturing workers hit nearly 12% and many workers with long years of seniority were thrown into the streets for not just weeks, but months, or longer. While for several decades it was, in large numbers, politically drugged by the sugar-coated poison of the imperialists, the basic industrial proletariat in the U.S. is already being and will increasingly be jolted awake and aroused to class-conscious struggle by the development of the crisis, with its economic and political Shockwaves–and through the work of the Party.

In addition to the industrial proletariat–and leaving aside for now the agricultural workers and government employees–there are roughly 40 million other members of the working class in service, sales and clerical and other occupations in the U.S. Generally they are paid less–and often quite a bit less–than the industrial proletariat and are also significantly less socialized. On the other hand, not only do they share the same basic condition of having their labor and their lives subordinated to capital, but increasingly they are being hit with various “mass production” schemes, which both further degrade and further socialize them and their conditions of labor. Much office work in particular is being restructured along “assembly line” designs, with a large number of workers being replaced by machines and those left being fastened more tightly to them under the command of a small elite of systems designers. Over the past decade and more, especially among service workers, there have been many militant struggles, often influenced by the revolutionary movements and sentiments of Black people and other oppressed peoples, who make up a large part of service workers in particular. And clearly these strata of the working class have also been hit hard by the downward spiral of crisis. Together with the industrial proletariat, they will in large numbers in the coming period be propelled into sharp struggle against the bourgeoisie and its intensified attacks and will, with the future development of a revolutionary situation and struggle, side in their great majority with the class-conscious proletariat.

There are also several million employees on various levels of government (federal, state, local). This is a broad and contradictory category, which includes on the one hand middle and high level bureaucrats and police and on the other a significant number of “blue collar” workers. Obviously the former will not only side with but are and will be an important weapon of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. Among the majority, however, including not only the “blue collar” workers but also many lower-level functionaries, while dependence on the government for employment as well as their generally less socialized conditions exerts a conservative influence on them, already many have waged hard-fought strikes and other battles against the government. Increasingly they are victimized by cutbacks and other attacks, and in the conditions of a revolutionary crisis and still more so the actual struggle for power, when everything goes up for grabs, large sections of them will fight in the camp of the proletariat.

The agricultural proletariat, though small in numbers in the U.S. today, has an extremely important role to play in the proletarian revolution, and the unity between the industrial and agricultural workers is a decisive question for this revolution, both before and after the seizure of power. Without this unity it will be impossible to conquer both the cities and the countryside, to feed and otherwise maintain the revolutionary army of the proletariat and to transform society upon winning victory in the revolutionary war. The potential for this unity has already been powerfully demonstrated in the heroic struggles of farmworkers in this country over the past 15 years and more, which have struck real blows against the bourgeoisie, inspired broader sections of the working class and the masses of people and played an important part in propelling the overall struggle against U.S. imperialism.

Including not only the more than 600,000 regular farmworkers (those working 150 days a year or more) but also the 5 million seasonal wage-workers in agriculture–and not even including the fairly large numbers of the more or less permanently unemployed farm and rural population–the agricultural proletariat in the U.S. is considerably larger than the number of farm owners, and in many cases farmworkers’ labor is becoming increasingly socialized. This is very favorable for the proletarian revolution in the U.S. So, too, is the fact that many industrial workers have close ties (family and otherwise) with farmworkers–and this is especially true among the millions of Black people who, in the period since World War 2, were forced off the farmlands and into the urban industrial proletariat. In addition, among the farmworkers there are today a large number of Blacks, Chicanos and Mexican immigrants (legal and “illegal”); this has infused farmworkers’ struggles with increased militancy and revolutionary sentiments and will be a very important factor in the development of the revolutionary movement among the agricultural workers and the proletariat as a whole.

Under capitalism, to paraphrase Karl Marx, the overwork of one section of the proletariat is the basis for the idleness of another–not only is unemployment an inevitable and essential feature of capitalism, but succesive generations of workers are forced to produce the capital which increasingly leads to the displacement of a part of their class and to the intensification of the labor of those still employed. This, plus the parasitism of imperialism, has resulted in the fact that in the U.S. there are millions–probably as many as 10 million or more–of the working class population who are more or less permanently unemployed–capable of working, desiring to work but forced instead into the degradation of welfare or even more desperate means of survival. A very large part–if, in absolute terms, a minority–of these cast-out sections of the proletariat are oppressed peoples. Even according to the official government figures, the unemployment rate for Black people and “other minorities” is twice the average (meaning more than twice that for whites), and in a number of major cities for the “Black and other minority” youth it is admitted to be as high as 40-50%–millions entering or seeking to enter the work force with little or no prospect of ever finding a job–under this “best of all possible systems”!

In addition, especially in times of serious crisis such as the present period in the U.S., millions more are thrown out of work for long periods. Many, especially among the older workers, will not find re-employment even when and if there is a recovery. Due to this, and the fact that many others are permanently disabled in the flesh-grinding capitalist production mills, the unemployed population rises further.

Overwhelmingly, the unemployed, including the more or less permanently unemployed, are, in their family connections and in their conditions of life, including the search for work, a part of the working class under capitalism–an indispensable part. But more than that, they are an extremely explosive part. Not only is this true in general, and not only has their explosive force made itself powerfully felt in urban rebellions as well as other forms of struggle, but the imperialists must to a large degree depend on the unemployed, including masses of unemployed youth from among the Black people and other oppressed people, for their armed forces. This is a great potential weapon of the proletariat, especially with the development of a revolutionary situation. And in general the unemployed will be a powerful component of the working class in the proletarian revolution, with many brave fighters from among them surging forward in the front ranks of the armed struggle for power.

At the opposite end of the working class is that not insignificant minority of workers–especially among those who are highly skilled and relatively individualized in their mode of labor–who constitute what Lenin called an aristocracy of labor. These are the privileged strata, numbering in the millions, who have received bribery from the spoils of imperialism well beyond the crumbs temporarily passed along to sections of the unskilled workers. They form the social base of the heads of the labor union bureaucracy and in general of the bourgeoisie within the working class and are a major vehicle for spreading patriotism and other forms of chauvinism among its ranks. They have more or less permanently become a bourgeoisified group, in their conditions of work and life and in their outlook. While it is impossible and incorrect to draw hard and fast lines, and while even this group itself is made up of different strata, some more and some less privileged, and while further even this labor aristrocracy is increasingly feeling the weight of the crisis and is forced to sacrifice some of its privileges, nevertheless the bourgeoisie will make serious efforts to maintain this group as a base for reformism and even outright reaction and to utilize it as an important weapon against the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. At the most, the class-conscious proletariat can hope to neutralize a part of this labor aristocracy, while fiercely combatting its influence within the working class and its role as a prop for the imperialists.

One of the significant factors–and a very favorable one for the proletariat in the U.S.–is the degree to which women are part of the work-force, including the industrial proletariat. Almost half the employed working class in the U.S. today are women; and, although the majority of women are employed in service, sales, clerical and similar occupations, more than 1/3 of the workers in manufacturing are women. Despite the lying propaganda that women do not really need to work, the actual situation of the masses today, and the increase of women in the work force itself, prove the opposite–including the significant fact that there are over 3 million women production workers who are heads of families. All this strengthens the basis both for the fight against the oppression of women and for women to play a powerful role in the overall class struggle.

The women’s movement of the past decade and more, although it has generally been led by middle class forces and has been strongly influenced by the bourgeoisie and its political representatives and agents, has overall made an important contribution to the fight against imperialism and has had a positive influence on the proletariat as a whole. Partly as a concession to the struggle against women’s oppression and to the need of increasing numbers of working class families for women to break into better paying jobs, women have made some inroads into previous “male only” occupations, not only among professional and business categories but within the working class itself. On the other hand, especially in recent years, this has also been partly due to a calculated move on the part of the imperialists in carrying out their preparations for world war, in which they will need women in unprecedented numbers both in all kinds of employment and in the armed forces. However, this will prove to be another weapon that explodes in the hands of the bourgeoisie, as more and more women, and in particular proletarian women–including also housewives of working class families–are increasingly influenced by and drawn into broader experience and political life. Women in the working class will play a crucial role, and the fight against the oppression of women will be a powerful reserve of the working class as a whole, in the proletarian revolution in the U.S.

Owing to the whole history of their oppression by the ruling class in this country, in various forms down to today, the majority of Black people and other oppressed peoples in the U.S. are concentrated in the lowest strata of the working class. At the same time, especially in response to the civil rights movement and still more the mass urban rebellions of the 1960s and early 70s, a significant increase occurred in the employment of Black and other oppressed peoples in the industrial proletariat, including such decisive industries as auto and steel. And, even though these concessions have come under attack in the past few years, these workers make up 13% of the total industrial proletariat and 16% of the assembly line and similar workers–and a far greater proportion in many large plants, especially in the major cities. But, even here, discrimination means that these workers are forced and locked in large numbers into the lesser-paying, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs, and especially are barred from many of the skilled positions and trades, except in token numbers.

Further, discrimination and segregation has the concrete effect not only that Black people and other oppressed peoples are crowded into the worst housing, but also that they face the worst of inadequate social services, are hit the hardest by cutbacks and general deterioration in the cities–and on top of it are forced to pay for the privilege of being oppressed in this way. It has been calculated that there is a hidden “tax” amounting to $1000 a year or more, in the form of higher food prices, insurance rates, etc., on the average Black family. Thus, for example, if a white and Black worker hold exactly the same position and receive the same paycheck (with the same deductions, etc.) in reality the Black worker is, on the average, receiving $1000 less a year. The majority of Black workers live in the central cities, held in huge numbers in the worst slums; the majority of white workers live in the suburbs or other areas outside the central cities.

Discrimination, and national oppression in general, is both extremely profitable for the bourgeoisie and a crucial political weapon, wielded directly against the oppressed people but also, fundamentally, at the entire working class. It is a major stumbling block to the development of a class-conscious revolutionary movement of the working class. But, on the other hand, the determined struggle waged by the oppressed people against this, along with their concentration in large numbers in the most exploited sections of the working class, including the heart of the industrial proletariat, provides a powerful inspiration and impetus precisely for the development of such a movement and for the unity of the working class forged in the fight for its revolutionary interests.

Historical and continuing national oppression, and sharp conditions of inequality, along with the constant ideological barrage of white chauvinism, has led to real national divisions in the working class. This has been especially marked during the period when the U.S. working class has been politically backward overall, but this question–including not only actual discrimination but the corresponding ideas, which assume a relatively independent life in the form of racism–has its own particularities. Combatting all this is a crucial part of the revolutionary struggle. The class-conscious proletariat must do this by working at it from two sides: it must unite with the struggles of the oppressed nationalities, fight for the line and outlook of the revolutionary proletariat and bring forward the most resolute of the fighters in these struggles, training them in this line and outlook–developing them into revolutionary fighters for all. On the other hand, there is the even more fundamental task of bringing forward the class-conscious proletariat of all nationalities to the front ranks of the fight against all oppression, including especially the fight against national oppression. All this is a decisive part of building the unity of the working class together with its allies.

The solid core of the united front the proletariat must build under its leadership is the revolutionary alliance of the working class movement as a whole with the struggles of the Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Native American and other oppressed peoples against the common enemy–the imperialist system and bourgeois dictatorship. Numbering in the tens of millions and suffering discrimination and other forms of oppression as peoples, while at the same time in their great majority part of the single proletariat in the U.S., concentrated in its most exploited sections, the oppressed peoples in the U.S. are a tremendously powerful force for revolution. Their fight for equality and emancipation is bound by a thousand links with the struggle of the working class for socialism and lends it great strength; it is the main reserve of the workers’ movement in the proletarian revolution in this country.

But among these oppressed peoples there are different class forces. In order to ally the movements of the oppressed peoples most closely with the revolutionary working class struggle, it is crucial to bring forward and rely on the masses of workers in these oppressed peoples’ movements and to build the revolutionary unity of the working class as a whole as the most fundamental unity. The class-conscious proletariat, of all nationalities, with the Party at the head, must lead the united front, in order to forge and strengthen the solid core, build that united front as broadly as possible and carry out the historic task of proletarian revolution.

At the same time and toward the same end, a critical question for the proletarian revolution is how to win over or at least neutralize as much of the petty bourgeoisie as possible. Literally, this term means small capitalists, but it is actually used to refer to the various intermediate strata between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This is a very large and diverse group, including those farmers who employ little or no wage-laborers, the owners of rather small-scale factories, real estate companies, commercial enterprises, etc., along with small shopkeepers and in general self-employed working people, as well as various intellectual and professional strata and lower-level supervisory and management personnel. Altogether, the petty bourgeoisie makes up perhaps as much as 1/3 of the total population in the U.S. Clearly, the question of where the petty bourgeoisie will line up, and how the proletariat can win over or at least neutralize as much of it as possible, is as complex as it is vital for the proletarian revolution.

The history of capitalism, especially in its imperialist stage, in the U.S. and elsewhere, shows that as crisis deepens and the revolutionary working class movement develops, the bourgeoisie increasingly attempts to mobilize the petty bourgeoisie against the proletariat and in particular to turn the desperation of the ruined petty bourgeoisie into a social basis for reactionary mass movements. Some sections of the petty bourgeoisie can be influenced in this direction, out of a desire to preserve their small capital and/or “independent” position above the proletariat; and for this same reason as well as the fact that, in general, it shares to a much larger degree than the proletariat in the spoils of imperialist plunder, the petty bourgeoisie is highly susceptible to the patriotic appeals and other chauvinist propaganda of the imperialists.

On the other hand, the very process of capitalist development, and in particular the domination of monopolies and finance capital in the imperialist stage, tends to crush the petty bourgeoisie-^-to ruin small capital and rob the professionals, intellectuals, etc., as well as small owners, of much of their “independent” position, forcing many into the working class and converting many others into salaried employees of large corporations and the government bureaucracies. This has been a marked phenomenon in the U.S. and has accelerated with the development and deepening of the present crisis. It has given rise in recent years to a number of sharp struggles, including among farmers and independent truckers as well as teachers, nurses and even sections of doctors and other higher-level professionals; and in some cases in the course of these struggles, those involved, while generally retaining their petty-bourgeois outlook, have united with workers and other oppressed masses.

The petty bourgeoisie, or part of it, recognizing the horrors of war, and world war in particular, but not also recognizing, as the class-conscious proletariat does, that such war is an inevitable feature of imperialism and even more that it also may provide the opportunity to overthrow the ruling class and make a leap toward a brighter future, tends to oppose such war, but with a pacifist stand. While the imperialists can strongly influence the petty bourgeoisie behind patriotic calls to support a “necessary” war to “defend the national interests,” the proletariat also can and must unite with anti-war sentiments among the petty bourgeoisie and struggle to win them to support, sympathize with or at least remain neutral towards an armed uprising of the masses to overthrow imperialism. And the possibility of winning them over will increase as it becomes clear that this represents the only possibility of preventing or pulling out of an imperialist war and when it also becomes clear that such a mass uprising has a real chance of succeeding.

Actually, only a minority of the petty bourgeoisie are well-to-do, earning large sums of money from their own employment and/or investments of various kinds. Most only dream of getting rich–and some have even given up that dream–while many are quite poor. For the majority, the only future is hardship and the threat of ruin under imperialism, and this becomes particularly acute and accelerated in periods of severe crisis. The more resolutely the proletariat fights for its own class interests, while consistently pointing the spearhead of that struggle against the imperialist system and exposing it as the source of the suffering of the people, the broader the sections of the petty bourgeoisie it will be able to win over or neutralize, especially with the development of a revolutionary situation.

Finally, within the U.S. there is a fairly large lumpen (literally, “broken”) proletariat. This is the criminal class in society–though actually it is not a single class, but is drawn from different classes and has a sort of class structure within it, all the way from the heads of major crime syndicates to more or less full-time petty thieves. The former are not only vicious vultures whose criminal organizations must be smashed and destroyed, but are generally interwoven with the legitimate robbers of society, the bourgeoisie, and most often have considerable legitimate business investment intertwined with their crime operations. They are obviously deadly enemies of the proletariat and targets of the proletarian revolution.

On the other hand, most crime in the U.S.–that is, most crime for which people are caught and punished and excluding therefore the largest part of the extensive “white collar crimes”–are petty crimes. While some of this is committed by lumpen proletarian elements, whose life depends on and centers around criminal activity, most of it is committed by people from the working class driven to desperation, especially the long-term unemployed. While in the main the victims of these crimes are workers and other oppressed masses, and while for that and more fundamental reasons the proletariat stands for the elimination of this and all crime, the class-conscious proletariat recognizes even more importantly that crime is an inevitable product of capitalism and its ideology, that the basis for crime can only be eliminated through the revolutionary struggle to overthrow and abolish capitalism and the bourgeoisie, and that the majority of criminals are themselves victims of this system who can and will be remolded through this same revolutionary struggle.

With regard to prisoners in particular, the majority of whom are from the working class and close to 1/2 of whom are from the oppressed peoples–including many poor people of all nationalities who have not committed crimes but are tried and convicted because they are poor–the stand of the class-conscious proletariat is to unite with and support them where they fight back against their barbarous conditions and especially where they take up a revolutionary stand and consciously link their struggle with the overall fight against the imperialist system. This has happened on many occasions, particularly in the past decade, and has provided a powerful source of inspiration and many valuable lessons for all those who hate this system and its injustices and want to fight against them. And this will be still more the case as the revolutionary movement of the working class and its allies develops–including the fact that increasing numbers of revolutionaries will themselves be jailed. Prisons under capitalism are not, as is sometimes claimed, “rehabilitation centers,” nor, as is more often declared, a place where “society puts ’animals’ to keep them from inflicting harm on law-abiding citizens.” They are instruments of bourgeois dictatorship whose purpose is to terrorize the masses broadly, as well as those actually locked up, and to further degrade the prisoners. In the process of seizing power, the revolutionary movement will storm the prisons, guns in hand, break open the prison doors and offer the masses of prisoners the chance to join the revolutionary army; the class-conscious proletariat will firmly unite with those who take this road, will unleash and guide their tremendous hatred for this system and lead them in struggle to fully remold themselves into fighters for the proletarian revolution.

As for the full-time but small-time criminals–those who by their conditions and outlook have become regularly involved in this kind of activity–while they often come into conflict with the police and other arms of the state, they also extensively cooperate with the police and are not infrequently recruited as police spies and provocateurs in the revolutionary movement. Overall, they are most likely to serve as agents and shock troops of the ruling class in its attempts to crush the working class and proletarian revolution, and historically they have been a major recruiting ground for fascist and other reactionary movements. With the development of its revolutionary movement, and especially as it gains strength, the proletariat will be able to win over some from this group, particularly when things reach the stage of armed struggle. But this will be possible only by exercising an absolutely firm hand and sharply struggling to instill in them the revolutionary outlook and discipline characteristic of the proletariat.

Summing up then, a basic analysis of the main forces in U.S. society leads to these general conclusions: in order to carry out the proletarian revolution, the working class as a whole, with the industrial proletariat as the backbone, must and will be the main and leading force; the bourgeoisie, with the monopoly finance capitalists as the dominant force, is the target of the revolution which must be overthrown and suppressed; the main and closest ally of the working class movement are the struggles of the oppressed peoples for equality and emancipation; and the working class can and must win over or at least neutralize a majority of the petty bourgeoisie, especially as the revolutionary mass movement develops and grows more powerful (some of the lumpen proletariat can also be won over). This represents the basic class and social content of the united front under proletarian leadership as the strategy for proletarian revolution in the U.S. today. It enables the proletariat to determine friends from enemies, unite its own ranks, win over its allies, isolate the enemy to the extreme and build the broadest united front to attack and overthrow this enemy and establish the proletarian dictatorship, under which it will continue the struggle toward the goal of communism.

But the revolutionary struggle is not a straight-line process, nor is the question of the forces involved a static thing. Thus, while the analysis above is indispensable for developing and carrying out the strategy for revolution, that strategy must be applied in a living way in accordance with the development of the objective situation and the class struggle in order to actually make revolution.

At the present time, not only is the proletariat not leading a broad united front against the ruling class, but the level of political consciousness and struggle of the working class itself is still quite low, and in general there is not as yet a high peak of political activity and struggle among the masses of people. But, on the other hand and more importantly, the crisis in which the ruling class is caught–and to which it has no possible resolution except to go to war in the attempt to once again re-divide the world–this crisis, as it develops and its nature and implications become clearer, is awakening and will continue to awaken broader ranks of the working class and other sections of the people to political life and propel them into struggle. This provides the proletariat, as represented by its Party, with a rare opportunity to expose and attack the ruling class, to rally broader forces in striking at it and turn the widespread unrest and the now smoldering, now erupting anger of growing numbers into a powerful movement of millions aimed at the ruling class and led by the Party toward the goal of overthrowing it.

All this, again, will not proceed in a straight line. As more and more people do awaken to political life and are propelled into struggle, not only will there be different class forces involved but among the working class itself, as well as among its present and potential allies, there will be advanced, intermediate and backward. Opposing class outlooks will contend–within mass struggles, organizations and even individuals. Through all this, the role of the class-conscious proletariat under the leadership of the Party and together with the work of the Party itself will be of crucial importance. The more that this revolutionary section of the working class mounts the political stage and takes decisive political action, the greater will be its influence, both among broader ranks of the working class and other strata and social forces, the more powerfully will the revolutionary potential of the working class stand out and the more forces will be attracted to its banner–the revolutionary banner of the international proletariat. And, too, the more that revolutionary struggles world wide develop and the more that the influence of the proletariat grows within them, broader sections of the working class in this country will develop class consciousness and undertake class-conscious political struggle. It is through the twists and turns of such a process, and especially with the sharpening of the objective conditions and the strengthening of the influence and leadership of the Party, that the development of a united front under the leadership of the proletariat will proceed and the movement will advance toward the goal of proletarian revolution.