Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

Revolution and Counter-Revolution
The Revisionist Coup in China and the Struggle in The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

The Class Struggle in the U.S.

By the Jarvis-Bergman Headquarters

Just as is claimed for the China paper, the recent rectification bulletin is called a major advance for our Party. It is in fact a most serious and dangerous step onto the road to hell. It stands as a qualitative leap backwards for the RCP and its development as the political party to lead our class in the war to smash its chains.

While it will certainly take a different form for the RCP, the ideological and political line of the Gang now being embraced (“Give the Gang a home,” as it is being said) cannot help but lead to political degeneration and isolation from the working class. For the Gang it meant becoming the target of the hatred of the Chinese working class and peasants and the hatred of millions of genuine communists of the CCP. For our Party it will certainly cause less emotion from the U.S. working class but in some ways it can be more tragic–stripping the U.S. working class of its Communist Party–if it is not theoretically, politically and organizationally defeated by a genuine proletarian line that will continue to forge ahead and lead our class to victory–as was done in China.

The High Road

Chairman Mao states throughout his five volumes, and stresses particularly in his later years, that there is the ceaseless emergence and resolution of contradictions. The question is which road one will take in resolving these contradictions. There is a road to the accomplishment of the historic mission of the proletariat.

This is not the road of retreat from contradictions. The road of retreat from the battles of our class under the banner of general socialist ideals with the hope that the battles will be easier in the future. The road of rationalizing further isolation from our fellow workers than conditions demand with guarantees they will follow us when conditions leap and change. This is the recent vulgarization of the high road. And while this retreat may seem easier or sweeter for some–it is only so in the short run, while fundamentally aiding the bourgeoisie.

The high road is the road of grasping the key battles of our class at every point of the class war. It is the road of standing with our class in those battles on all 3 fronts (theoretical, political and economic) fighting with them and leading them forward to the revolutionary goal. It is the road of making every link with struggle and really carrying out the 3 objectives. It is the road of making the maximum advances for our class given the objective conditions–doing all we can to prepare our Party and the ranks of the proletariat, so that when the time is right we will not lose the opportunity. This is the high road. This is the road we must grasp firmly and continue on.

Two Lines–Two Roads

Despite the tone the rectification bulletin tries to set, we are indeed faced with a major contradiction in our Party right now. A contradiction that absolutely demands resolution along the correct path. Our Party has reached a major crisis point and the question of which road we take has come to the fore.

The rectification bulletin has claimed a major victory over revisionism. A removal of the fetters on the development of our Party and a smashing of forces that opposed our Party’s line. It is based on anti-Marxist theoretical and political points, distortions, misleading statements and half truths. It is fundamentally anti-materialist. It is an attempt to theoretically, politically and organizationally cripple and destroy our Party.

The current report consciously mystifies the two line struggle in our Party. It reduces the struggle to questions of who liked “as is” and who didn’t and other similar gems. For most comrades who knew little about the developing struggle, the report leaves us scratching our heads over what the actual lines were. Mostly, we have to take it on faith.

Faith is not the method of Marxist-Leninists. The struggle and two lines now burst upon our Party are not mysteries. They can be seen, grasped, and the incorrect line repudiated and defeated on the basis of Marxism and the interests of our class. Necessity demands that we do this. Necessity demands that we be ruthlessly scientific. While no one can be cheered over the recent developments in our Party, we can turn this necessity, the bursting out of major line struggle in our Party, into our freedom to grasp, deepen and resolve many of the major line questions that have continued to exist in our Party. In the recent period, there has been an increasing struggle between clarity and confusion, right and wrong at the different levels. Many of the contradictions correctly identified at the 76 CC meeting have not been resolved: the right idealism, our work at the center of gravity, the relationship of the three fronts of struggle of our class, the theoretical development of our Party, etc.

Many comrades are presently shocked over the recent quick decision over China as well as reports that there was a major two-line struggle brewing. This is because the struggle was being conducted overwhelmingly through the regular channels of the Party, despite the ravings of the rectification paper that a major bourgeois headquarters and faction was set up. Before the leap on the “China question”, the 2 lines in our Party were still in the quantitative stage of development and could still have been resolved non-antagonistically.

But increasingly a tendency in the line of the Party Center showed the basis of the eventual leap of a section of the Center to support for the Gang of Four. This came out most clearly in the campaign to found the NUWO, which was based on an idealist line from start to finish and left the Party more confused than ever when it was over. It also came out in a broad range of other questions from the elections campaign to having 4-5 internal campaigns running simultaneously, to the way political education has been carried out in the Party, and more. The line has been increasingly a “left” idealist line, failing to grasp and deal with the actual contradictions that exist in the working class and the Party. A retreat from the actual contradictions in the working class and Party and thus a retreat from the class struggle as it exists in the real world. A line that rests complacent at the stage of rational knowledge but is incapable of transforming this knowledge into revolutionary practice, incapable of developing political line to lead the Party and the masses to transform these ideas into a force to change the world.

This “left” idealist tendency of the leadership has actually promoted narrowness and empiricism in the branches and lower levels of the Party. It forces those who seek to develop political line to change the world to do so based only on their immediate experience, whether this is over political questions such as the relationship of center of gravity and building the UWO, developing internal Party campaigns, political education and on and on.

As has already been said, these tendencies, while increasingly serious, were still in their stage of quantitative development–but they begin to show the outlook that the leap to the Gang was based on. And it can show the direction the Party center’s line will go once the world outlook of the Gang is consolidated in our Party. This paper will serve as a guide to understanding the development of this tendency and the development of the two lines and two roads in our Party.

It is a beginning analysis. It will put this major line struggle in our Party in the historical context of line struggles that often develop in the initial years of a party’s development. It will focus on how the two lines developed in the struggle to transform and change the world. It will focus on the two major campaigns of our Party–July 4th and the founding of the NUWO–in which almost every Party member participated. It will also sum up how those who wore the “banner, of theory and politics” in our Party were becoming a dead weight on its theoretical and political development. In the course of this it will refute many of the flimsy distortions of the rectification bulletin.

Now, given the objective development of the situation, we must seize the time and use our understanding of Marxist theory; our practical experience in the class war over the last two years and more on all three fronts; and the revolutionary drive that has characterized much of the spirit of the old RU and the RCP in its refusal to back off in the face of contradictions and difficulties, so that we can forge ahead and create new conditions that in whatever way is necessary our class will not be robbed of Marxist-Leninist line and leadership.


A critical question faced our Party at its birth: would the RCP continue the difficult process of merging the socialist and working class movements, or would it fail in this task, as had so many other revolutionary and M-L organizations in the history of the U.S. class struggle, especially the recent history? For a Party which mainly grew out of non-proletarian struggles and which was made up mainly of communists drawn from non-proletarian classes and strata, this question means in the final analysis the difference between making revolution–going forward on the road to communism, and giving up on the historic mission of the working class.

Lenin’s writing at the turn of the century immediately after the formation of the Social Democratic Party explains a phenomenon that is a crucial point for us to understand some of the ideological, political and social roots of the major errors of the center: the fact that the socialist movement in capitalist countries, in its early stages, and at different times during its development, develops “outside the working class movement.” Lenin notes this creates the worst of both worlds, “. . In every country there has been a period in which the working class movement existed apart from socialism, each going its own way; and in every country this isolation has weakened both socialism and the working class movement.” (Urgent Tasks of Our Movement, see Party Work in the Masses.)

Certainly what Lenin says here is true of the U.S. in the past period. The working class movement of this country has not been combined with the socialist movement for over 20 years. U.S. imperialism had become the major imperialist power after WWII, and this helped provide the material basis for driving the socialist movement out of the working class. McCarthyism, the revisionist takeover of the CPUSA, the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union–all were part of the development of a long period of separation of the socialist and working class movements.

Genuine communist forces developed in the late ’60s and early ’70s mainly on the campuses and out of the various struggles of the oppressed nationalities. At the same time the material situation of the working class had deteriorated in relation to the ’50s. Bourgeoisification is starting to break down. Vietnam, Watergate, the anti-war movement and minority battles for liberation all further developed the political consciousness of the working class. Still, today the struggles of our class are mainly scattered and largely economic, and politically the bourgeoisie can still rule, though with increasing difficulty. It is on this stage that the communist forces–led by the RU and eventually by the RCP have the task of beginning to break down the independence of the working class movement and socialist movements.

The MPR speaks clearly to this point in the section on orientation: “at the beginning of the past period communist forces arose mainly outside the working class and had at that time little connection with the working class. The task at that time was to begin the process of merging communism with the actual struggle of the working class, linking Communists with the working class, and building communist organization with ties with the working class–in the course of battle.” (MPR, p. 2) The MPR stresses that this task had to continue, further deepen and develop off the formation of the Party, if the working class movement was to ultimately rise to “smash all social chains enslaving the producers and shackling production itself,” and if we were to become a communist party that truly reflected and concentrated the advanced interests of the class and be capable of leading it on this mission.

The key question, the MPR notes, is one of line–and that this is a life and death question. The proletarian line will either transform the social base of our Party, or the social base (mainly from non-proletarian classes and strata) will transform the line.

Fusion Often Coupled with “Vacillation and Doubt”

But as Lenin runs down in “Urgent Tasks,” as history has proven dozens of times over; and as we have seen in our own brief history–the road of fusing socialism with the working class movement is not always smooth. Particularly in its early period of merger this is a major contradiction to resolve and the underlying source of a great deal of struggle.

In Russia, the necessity for combining socialism and the working class movement was in theory long ago proclaimed, but is only now being carried into practice. It is a very difficult process and there is, therefore, nothing surprising in the fact that it is accompanied by vacillations and doubts.

As Lenin explains throughout his writings in that period, there are two ways you can go if you fail to resolve this contradiction correctly. You can step backward on the question of socialism, bow to the spontaneous struggle, only take up economic struggle, leave the theoretical and political battlefield to the students and bourgeoisie–thus disarm the working class and condemn it to continued wage slavery. Lenin writes much about this error at the turn of the century in his major battles with the economists, and the article, “Urgent Tasks” is mainly aimed at this tendency.

The opposite error he speaks to is giving up on the working class, making a principle of the separation of the socialist movement and the working class movement in the name of socialist purity. Lenin wrote his major articles on this deviation in the post WWI period, with the formation of the 3rd International and many new parties in Europe. He targeted a number of these new parties who failed to deal with the changing conditions and the new character of the class struggle. This new character was not as thrilling or “political” as the previous period of upsurge. Lenin particularly hit these parties for their failure to be based in the socialized industries and the everyday struggle of our class, failure to work in the bourgeois trade unions and failure to use bourgeois elections as a political platform to expose the bourgeois political parties and their role.

The question of continuing to fuse the socialist and workers movement and provide a durable basis for both is the heart of the present two-line struggle in our Party. A demoralized section of the CC has raised the banner of retreat and ultimately, surrender. Give up on basing ourselves on the actual contradictions and conditions of the working class–that is much too difficult. This question does not pose itself as an open struggle “to fuse or not.” Rather it is reflected in a number of political questions, contradictions which must be resolved to keep on the high road of bending every effort to carry out the three objectives and make every possible advance in preparing our Party and the ranks of the proletariat ideologically, politically, and organizationally for the development of a revolutionary situation. A wrong line on any particular question has a quantitative effect on the overall line of the Party if not correctly handled through the process of criticism and self-criticism. But a wrong line on a major question in which an entire ideological and political outlook is taken up will inevitably lead to the situation Lenin states occurs at various points of the revolutionary struggle, “the separation of the socialist movement and the working class movement.” This is what has developed at the recent Central Committee meeting off the adoption of the outlook of the Gang of Four.

It is in the face of this difficult situation that we must deepen our determination to refuse to be separated off from our class and to base ourselves in the actual contradictions and conditions of our class. We must deepen our theoretical and political understanding of how to continue to take this task on and build off the real advances that have been made. And we must continue to be guided by words of Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto:

In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?
The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working class parties.
They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.
They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the fore the common interests of the entire proletariat, independent of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development through which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, in the sphere of practice, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; and on the other hand, in the realm of theory, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.


The rectification bulletin tries to claim that economism and overemphasis on industrial concentration was developed by Comrade Jarvis and his trained crew of pragmatists (who then, we are told, moved on to political pragmatism). The struggle against economist tendencies was certainly a sharp one in our Party. This was summed up after the July 4th campaign and further deepened at the ’76 CC meeting. It was a struggle in which the overwhelming majority of Party members took part. It was a struggle in which members of leading bodies took clear positions. In this section of the paper we’ll trace how economism developed, whether an economist line was promoted at the Founding Congress, the actual source of the economist tendency after the founding of our Party, and how the Party broke through in identifying and struggling against this tendency.

The rectification paper tells us nothing about the political and ideological basis and the history of economism in our Party. Instead it merely points the finger at Comrade Mickey Jarvis as the early leader of the economist tendency. We would rather not get into a “who shot John” and will do so only as it relates to the major lines called into question, before we move on to speak to the actual source of economism and how the Party as a whole waged struggle against it.

Founding Congress

Approaching the Founding Congress there were a number of major line questions being struggled out in all sections of the Party. In the leading bodies some were sharp, some were not and they were certainly not “Jarvis-Avakian” superpower exclusives, a confrontation of “geniuses.” People lined up on this or that question, lined up again differently on another question, and so on.

On the question of concentrating the work of our Party at the center of gravity, Comrade Avakian held no opinion for quite a while, finally agreeing to it. Comrade Jarvis initiated the MPR’s line on this question and struggled for it. As to whether he and others set out to shift everything into the center of gravity and industrial concentration we can only use one criterion–practice (sorry, Bob). Here we call on comrades to sum up the resolutions coming out of the working class committee headed by Comrade Jarvis at the Founding Congress and united on at the Plenary. (These are contained in the CC report on the Founding Congress, released to the cadre immediately after the Party was formed.) One resolution united around the present center of gravity of the workers struggle, while calling for clarity in distinguishing this from the central task of the Party.

Were there some who were leaning or even developing a line towards “everything through the center of gravity,” confusing this with the Party’s central task? Yes, there were. This line was especially coming from someone who is presently skyrocketing to the top of the Party, who held the most stubborn position on this question in the entire workers movement committee.

Another major question which came up at the Congress was over the relation of the intermediate workers organizations to the struggles of the workers in the shops. The draft said, “While these organizations must be based mainly in the plants and other workplaces their overall role is to apply the single spark method. .. etc.” This tended to pit the “overall role” of the IWOs against their role in leading struggle at the center of gravity and sounded almost apologetic that the IWOs “must be based in the shops”. The final program was changed at the initiative of Comrade Jarvis, and with some opposition from Avakian once again, to read, “These organizations must be based in the plants and other workplaces, must take an active part in building the fight there and play a leading role in the struggles of the rank and file workers. Their overall role is to apply the single spark method.” (RCP Programme, p. 109) This reaffirmed the importance of the Party linking up with and leading these day to day struggles and building organization among the workers which would play a big role in helping to lead them rather than “creating fashionable means” whereby to raise the workers consciousness.

In addition there was struggle around the formulation in the draft program over whether organization is built first to build struggle, or to raise the consciousness of the advanced. The changes in the Party Program from the Draft Program (for example, p. 109 Programme, p. 31, Draft) reflect this struggle and emphasize that it is key to analyze all questions in terms of how they serve the proletariat in the class war. Comrade Avakian at first opposed these changes (which were fought for by Comrade Jarvis) and it’s clear he never learned the political lesson well. Check out his leadership of the campaign to found the NUWO, which in classic Gang of 4 fashion isolated the question of founding the NUWO from conditions, time and place, and very much fell into building an organization to raise the consciousness of the advanced. (More on this later.)

Something Smells

One last point. Comrade Avakian has now claimed (at the recent CC meeting) that he saw all kinds of rightism at the Founding Congress and resulted in his lack of open political participation. This rightism was caused by Comrade Jarvis and was the cause of major problems in our Party the first year. Something fishy has to be going on here. In the two times he spoke during all the plenary sessions of the Congress, we don’t get one word about economism, syndicalism, or over-emphasis on industrial concentration. We are not talking about a major attack on rightism. But wouldn’t some political points and guidance from the Chairman–such as watch out for the confusion of center of gravity and central task–have been well taken by those at the plenary sessions. Other comrades did so at the Congress (so it was not a vicious struggle of going against the tide). And certainly Comrade A was overwhelmingly looked to for political leadership at the Congress by the plenary members. Maybe he thinks Comrade Jarvis had an army waiting for him if he dared to speak against rightism like he claims Mao must have (and capitulated to) when he appointed Hua.

More seriously, we must ask ourselves why Comrade A is starting to launch an attack on the Founding Congress and whitewash his name for being responsible for the errors he claims it has. Why are the facts leading up to the Congress distorted? What verdicts of the Founding Congress are to be reversed? The MPR and Programme adopted at the Founding Congress were tremendous advances in the application of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought in the conditions of this country and must be upheld.

New Idealism to Solve Old Problems

It is certainly true in the period following the founding of the Party that an economist strain rose to the fore. In the working class, there was a tendency to collapse the central task into the center of gravity and negate political struggle. The philosophical basis of this was the idealism spoken to in the ’76 CC report, in a section of “Some Points” which was added at the initiative of Comrade Jarvis, although it came out in Comrade Avakian’s name. This idealism mainly took a right form in that it isolated the immediate struggle from all other contradictions in society. Workers could learn all about society through day to day struggles. Students could learn all about society by fighting cutbacks, veterans by fighting the G.I. Bill, etc.

The struggle over how to resolve these and a number of other problems has been at the heart of a great deal of struggle and the development of two lines in our Party. Suddenly, here in this rectification bulletin we get a new idealist solution as to what brought it all on. Comrade Jarvis, we are told, is the one who has been behind it all. And at the CC meeting he was called the main reason for the early rightism in our Party because he trained people in rightism and more fundamentally pragmatism, though it is not explained how he managed this. This is nothing but more idealist solutions to the very real contradictions that developed in the early period of the Party, nothing but a gimmick, and it can’t help but fail to resolve continuing problems and hold back all those cadre who are attempting to resolve them.

What is the truth? A number of these problems that developed during this period came from a rightist drift in applying the line of the newly formed RCP.

There was the opening sentence in the Workers Movement section of the Programme that blasted all Trotskyite idealism and metaphysics: “The working class learns through its day to day struggle.” There was the push in the MPR to unite with the concrete battles of our class, and there was the call in the orientation section of the MPR to rely on, learn from and bring forward our class brothers and sisters, about which there is too little talk today. There was our determination not to be condescending saviours and lecturers, because we saw our class had far too many of those. All these things marked our distinction from every political organization which has existed over the last 20 and more years. It reflected the determination of the RCP to do what had not been done during that period: fuse socialism with the working class movement.

Isolating this contradiction from all other contradictions led to certain problems. It led to people negating the role of political struggle of our class. It led to not grasping what Mao calls the necessity to “create new conditions through struggle,” a tendency not to move unless the workers are already moving. It led us to take up the center of gravity in a narrow way, not as part of our work toward the revolutionary goal of the proletariat. And we tended to downgrade the role of theory.

On top of this, there were straight-out idealist lines on a number of key questions, such as the formation of the Party and a “straight down” view of the crisis. And there were pragmatic errors when we were able to unite with the struggle of the masses, negating the 2nd and 3rd objectives. All of this was always secondary to the principal Marxist-Leninist aspect of our work.

There was also the fact that the MPR–an overwhelmingly excellent contribution to the development of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought in the U.S.–failed to explicitly distinguish between economic and political struggle, although that is done without using these particular terms.

Was there struggle in the leading bodies during this early period over the tendencies towards economism and idealism of the spontaneous level of the working class? There certainly was developing struggle around these questions. Was the struggle aimed at Comrade Jarvis–not whatsoever. The struggle which did develop, and the lines were still in their early quantitative stage, was mainly directed at those who are now rallying around Comrade A’s “left” idealist line. The main struggle with these forces would wait until the July 4th campaign and be further deepened and summed up at the 2nd plenary session of the CC.

These contradictions and problems could have led, in time, to major line deviations in our Party, if they were not identified and correctly resolved. Through political struggle in our Party in its first year, and especially during the July 4 campaign, these tendencies were to a large degree identified and struggled against. But Avakian’s developing “left” idealist line has interfered with solving these problems over the last year; in fact it has set this process back, and caused greater confusion between right and wrong (we’ll go into this later in the UWO section.) The current leadership has a new idealist scheme–Jarvis and the trained crew of pragmatists caused all those problems back then, when we root them out we will finally have overcome the rightist problems in our Party.

New Formulation Bound to Fail

The formation of the RCP was a major advance of our class, a product of the class struggle and a vehicle to serve the class struggle. It was also the result of the collective struggle of many communists who had gone to the working class, learned from the working class, and applied MLM to that experience to help provide the basis for developing a party that could lead the way to the future. The role of certain individuals was necessary and important in this process, and this certainly includes the contributions of Comrades Jarvis and Avakian. It’s outrageous that the current leadership is going to start naming Comrade Jarvis as the source of all problems because he “trained pragmatists.” This will only promote genius theory and an idealist solution of real contradictions that did exist, and still exist.

Correctly handling a number of key line questions that developed during the Party’s first year and up to this day, many of which were first identified during the July 4 campaign and the ’76 CC meeting, is certainly not an easy task. We could only have done this using Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought as our guide, with the Party’s chain of knowledge/chain of command upheld through the use of the mass line both in the Party and among the masses, and by constantly developing political line to fight the bourgeoisie and change the world. This is not the way Comrade Avakian’s increasingly idealist line developed the Party to function. And the new idealist line that Jarvis was the source of economism all the way back to the start of the Party is a glimpse of the present leadership’s attempts to distort reality and turn right and wrong upside down (necessary to get over with the removal of so many leading comrades)–and stands as testament to Avakian’s continuing inability to solve the major line questions facing our Party and the U.S. working class.

The July 4 Campaign

Most comrades would agree that the July 4th campaign was the most significant and successful campaign our Party has ever launched and developed. This is true in terms of our work in the working class and other sections of the population. We took up the battle against the capitalists’ Bicentennial with a revolutionary line and united with and released the initiative of the advanced to take this major political fight into their shops, neighborhoods, unemployment centers, etc. We fought the bourgeoisie toe-to-toe in Philly and DC and stood as a militant and proletarian pole to our fellow workers in areas all around the country. It was the first major political demonstration by the working class led by a working class line in over 20 years.

In addition to this the campaign was a major advance for our functioning as a Marxist-Leninist Party. The mass line was developed well both within the Party and among the masses leading the Party to function as a chain of knowledge/chain of command in the course of changing the world. This enabled the Party to deepen its knowledge of many particular questions. More important, it enabled us to deepen our overall line on the task of leading the working class and struck a major blow at economist tendencies in our Party.

The proposal for the demonstration was out in Dec. ’75, 2 months after the formation of the Party. The proposal came from that same one who’s the evil behind all the economist winds–Comrade Jarvis.

As the campaign developed, there were tremendous battles between clarity and confusion, right and wrong in one branch after another and higher levels of Party leadership. The political tasks involved in building the demonstration were coming into contradiction with economist tendencies in our line.

Learn by Changing the World

The Marxist theory of knowledge was being applied–through the application of the mass line. To develop the line for the July 4th campaign, the Party analyzed society as a whole: increased economic problems of the bourgeoisie, their necessity to paint over people’s cynicism and distrust in government, their calls for patriotism and necessity of steps towards war, particularly given the experience with the Vietnam war, etc.–and used Marxism to uncover the laws governing the development of the Bicentennial ’76 and how it was part of the overall class struggle in the U.S. As the Party took this general line and developed particular policies to move forward the class struggle in the shops, cities, neighborhoods and schools, our overall line on July 4 was deepened as well as our overall line on leading the working class and masses toward revolution. Taking this out to our fellow workers we could see the errors of building a “jobs demo” on July 4th, or a “build our movement” demo as they were in contradiction to the political character of the day and the bourgeoisie’s plans.

We gathered more experience which, in turn, deepened and developed our knowledge of the nature of July 4th and the working class movement as a whole. This is not to say that there were no problems in the campaign or every contradiction was resolved without a hitch. But weren’t these times characterized by constant “up and down” discussions, struggle and deepening of line–which ultimately led to an important breakthrough in our overall understanding? Was this an accident? You might think so if you compare it to how the chain of knowledge/chain of command was used in carrying out the NUWO campaign. Or was it the result of carrying out part of the call in the first July 4th bulletin, and carrying out general principles of communist leadership–which must be from the masses to the masses:

Comrades must discuss thoroughly this bulletin and ways of implementing it, based on the preliminary ideas below. It is key that we root this discussion in summation of the sentiments and ideas of the masses and that this process of discussion, implementation, and summation be reported up through regular channels so that we can avoid being off the wall (idealism) and effectively apply the mass line. (1st July 4th bulletin)

At different stages in the campaign there were struggles in our Party over its nature and character. The leading body of our Party that called for the demonstration had a major struggle, with a number of people calling the demonstration a distraction to the work in the shops–our work at the center of gravity.

As the initial bulletin came out, it brought to the fore a number of problems in our work spoken to earlier–isolating the “economic” contradiction from all others in society, fear of being weird by taking an issue like this into the plants, unions, etc. This came out in dozens of ways from the units in building for regional conferences, in the extent of widespread agitation and propaganda, to the making of the campaign into a battle in our shops, neighborhoods, etc. In one way or another, the tendency was always to render the campaign into a campaign for palpable results, whether this was by making it into a “jobs” demonstration or a “build our movement” demonstration (see July 4th sum-up bulletin) which mainly had an economic form but which also had a political form.

In addition to this there was the question of how to turn our understanding of objective necessity–the bourgeoisie’s necessity to use the Bicentennial to paint over the 1001 abuses and sores of capitalism into our freedom to expose the underlying class relations and point the finger at their rule as the source of everything rotten in society. This required not bowing to spontaneity. The working class’ main form of resistance to the Bicentennial was cynicism or just ignoring it, but developing a line and tactics to unite advanced forces to create new conditions through struggle in our shops, unemployment centers, etc. so we could start to bring the issue home to our class. The struggles around July 4 also included whether it was to be just built among “other classes and strata” or whether workers would take it up.

It was these very real contradictions that the Party was taking up which could have a major bearing on our Party’s ability to fuse the socialist movement with the working class movement. A retreat and failure to resolve them correctly would mean a big step backwards in the overall line of the Party, falling deeper into economism, as well as a step backwards for our class, which would be unable to stand up and put forward its political interests on this day. Here the two lines and the two roads were before us, with many of the incorrect tendencies in our Party hanging right out there on this question. The high road was the task of using Marxism-Leninism to sum up the development of the contradictions and develop political line to resolve the contradictions so the Party could continue leading the class forward. The overall sum up of the campaign clearly brings out how the correct resolution of the contradictions developed and deepened the overall line of the Party and moved it along the socialist road:

Politically what we can learn from all this is that if we restrict the building of actual struggle of our class to only economic struggle or substitute things such as build-our-movement for taking up the political attacks on our class, we will inevitably fall into the economist line criticized by Lenin many years ago: ’Economic struggle (around wages and working conditions) for the workers, political struggle (around broad social questions pointing to which class rules) for the intellectuals.’ This comes up again and again when we fail to see in the struggles the workers are waging today against the effects of capitalism, the seeds of all-around battle waged by the workers on all fronts against capitalist rule. To develop the working class movement, as it exists today, in this direction, we have to bring the light of Marxism to the economic battles (center of gravity); and we have to seize every opportunity to build off of and advance the understanding and organization of the working class by taking on broader social questions, not as we decide the workers should face them, but as these questions actually present themselves to the workers and provide a basis to draw the workers into activity.

Building a workers movement to overthrow capitalism can come only as we seize on every opportunity to do this, based on the actual contradictions, and in doing this strive to fulfill all three major objectives set out in our Programme: ’to win as much as can be won in the immediate battle and weaken the enemy; to raise the general level of consciousness and sense of organization of the struggling masses and instill in them the revolutionary outlook of the proletariat; and to develop the most active and advanced in these struggles into communists, recruit them into the Party and train them as revolutionary leaders.’ (July 4th sum up bulletin)

One last point. It was also during the July 4th campaign we developed our line around waging “big battles with small forces”. (By the way, the story that the so-called revisionist headquarters made this the heart of the CC report is a bare-faced lie, and comrades who worked with those now being attacked should use this as one more reference point as to who truly seeks truth from facts–who are fearless materialists and who aren’t.) Their contempt for this concept shows their contempt for the mass line–which can be your only basis for developing it and carrying it out. Grasping the key issues of concern for the masses, the vulnerable points that the bourgeoisie is trying to cover up (moves to war, unemployment, housing in Philly, etc.) and concentrating these particular phenomena into a general line that concentrates the felt needs of the masses and exposes the class relations of capitalism. This enables relatively small forces to have far greater political impact and influence than their numbers. This question, which is always important is particularly critical in doing revolutionary work in this period, given the relatively small number of advanced forces and the present level of struggle among the masses. This ran throughout the campaign and the 4 days of fighting the bourgeoisie itself in D.C. and Philly.

July 4th was an excellent living example of the use of the mass line and revolutionary theory. Comrades learned from it throughout the Party and it mainly had a good effect in our work both in terms of immediate advances off the demonstration and in terms of what the Party learned overall.

Slaves of Necessity

Because we are under attack for giving leadership to economism, because the J4 campaign was a source of rich lessons in the Party’s political line, and because of the absurdities in the rectification bulletin around the source of economism in the Party’s line and practice it is important to point out the role of different forces in the Party during this campaign. As already said, this was the first major line struggle in the RCP and so it is not difficult to point out the role different forces played in it.

Those who held the strongest and most stubborn line of economism are now those who are the chief supporters of Comrade Avakian’s left idealist line in our Party. It was also at this time a number of these forces had one excuse or another why not to go ahead with May Day demonstrations. In addition to their overall economist bent there was also a very serious tendency to fail to leap beyond our general line of J4, to fail to develop policies and plans based on this line and rooted in the particular contradictions that would lead the advanced forces to create new conditions through struggle, raise the proletarian pole, and make the campaign a battle in our shops and neighborhoods.

Instead they became slaves of necessity. As the class spontaneously was not fighting against July 4th and there was no ongoing social movement to unite with, the campaigns were caught in a state of paralysis. This point is well spoken to in the J4 bulletin (sum up). The consistent inability of these forces to lead people to deal with the actual contradictions, and develop political line to move the class struggle forward has been a basic reason why these forces have flipped from economism (leaving the class struggle to spontaneity) to left idealism that stays in the realm of general line, refusing to return this overall line to policies and revolutionary practice given the actual conditions, time and place.

The 5 CC members who were in the Party’s positions of responsibility for this demonstration to politically develop the campaign, lead the 4 days of activities and provide political summation have all been removed from full positions in the CC and from their leadership posts. Comrade Jarvis was in charge of the campaign as a whole. (As we’ll point out in a second, this is also in the context of the Party center barely functioning in this period.)

We are sure that Comrade Avakian and Co. are going to start screaming “using July 4th as capital.” We are equally sure that comrades will understand the seriousness of the situation, study the bulletins, especially the summation bulletin, and sum up with the science of Marxism the campaign which they had direct experience in over the question of lines. Was economism promoted or opposed? Was pragmatism promoted or opposed? Didn’t the line and practice during the July 4th campaign make a major contribution to the development of the Party’s line in a number of key questions?

As the struggle against economism started Avakian played a good role. He supported the call for the July 4th demonstration and he also wrote the mass line articles. However, for the major part of the campaign in which the major line struggles around economism developed, Avakian was in a state of severe demoralization and disorientation. He basically withdrew from any active functioning as chair.

We would not make a point about this except for 3 reasons. First, the absurd argument that he played a major role in the struggle against economism. He did make certain contributions–the already mentioned mass line articles and the article ”Day to Day Struggle and the Revolutionary Goal” in the June Revolution, (although the lifelessness of the article reflects his inactivity for 4-5 months). But this was after the Party had already broken through on the major line questions.

Second, the fact that his withdrawal as any type of functioning chair was brought on very much by demoralization and doubts about the objective situation of the US working class and his ability to play a leading role given the situation–the situation and struggle not being “political” enough.

Third, and key–the fact that he came out of his demoralization with a line that more and more retreated from the actual contradictions in the working class, from the objective conditions. He has more and more stayed at only the idealist rational level of knowledge, and failed to root this in the actual conditions of the class struggle. This would provide him with the “political” role he sought, but it would also give leadership to the tendency in the Party center to develop line independent of concrete conditions.

The second plenum of the CC, held shortly after the July 4th demonstration, represented a crossroads for the Party. The meeting and the report issued from it consolidated and raised the struggle against idealism, further developed our understanding of the nature of the qualitative leap involved in the change to a revolutionary situation, reaffirmed and deepened the Party’s understanding of the UFAI as the strategy for proletarian revolution in this country, identified certain features of the present period (downward spiral and some general points about the consciousness of the masses), identified certain tasks for the period in general and specifically (NUWO, YCL, elections campaign, etc.). Comrade Avakian made many important contributions at this meeting. At the same time, he also showed a tendency towards vacillation and doubt, a tendency which found some support in a section of the CC. At a meeting of the standing body of the CC before the full CC meeting and at the CC meeting itself, certain strains of defeatism and retreat in the face of difficulties were struggled out, resulting in a few changes in the “as is” original version of the final drafts eventually adopted and distributed by the CC (“Some Points”). At a certain point one CC member jumped up and said, “I think we should accept this report as is.” This point was not voted on, although the rectification bulletin tries to deny that anything was done to improve Comrade Avakian’s paper and states basically that certain forces were routed over “as is.” Actually, certain changes were made, and of course “Further Remarks” was written off the discussion and struggle in the standing bodies and distributed along with “Some Points”.

In point 3 of the report, the original version read, “But it is the BEGINNING of the new spiral–and so the fact that it is an advance is not immediately evident.” This was changed to “not always immediately so evident.”

A small point? No. Failing to see that this period is an advance over the last one (“it is not always immediately so evident” but it can and must be seen) is to have closed ones eyes to the beginning stirrings of the workers in this country. Not only in their struggles at the center of gravity such as the Meatcutters strike, the rank and file movement to oust Abel, the struggles of the miners, but also we had just come from the streets of Philadelphia where we had summed up that the working class had taken the political stage for the first time in over 20 years! The original “as is” version tended to be an appeal to the nostalgia of the petit-bourgeois radicals who continually want to return to the high tide of the revolutionary movements of the 60s, and reflected to some degree the demoralization of the petit-bourgeois radicals in the early and mid-70s as that high tide ebbed.

About 3-4 paragraphs were added to point 4 of the original “as is” draft before it was circulated to the cadre. The paragraphs deepened the line on the idealist basis of the rightism and secondarily some left lines in the Party, and added the criticism of the line that “it is enough to wage the economic struggle in an economist way, not linking it with other struggles throughout society against the ruling class and with the long-range goal of proletarian revolution,” and criticisms of confusing the central task of the Party with the center of gravity, and of the line that the economic struggles of the workers are “potentially revolutionary.” In other words, this obviously strengthens the paper against rightism; the rectification paper tries to say all criticism of the original draft was from the right.

The demoralization came out even stronger in the draft of point 4. The distributed report reads, “While, overall, advances including some very important ones–have been made in concentrating its forces in the key industries and major struggles of the workers, this idealist view and its rightist essence (and generally rightist form) have run counter to these advances and could, if not checked, turn these advances into their opposite. While generally the morale of the Party members is high, based on grasping and applying the Party’s correct line, this idealism has led to some demoralization–and will lead to still more, unless we get down on it and begin to root it out.” (emphasis added) Of all this, only the last half sentence, “this idealism has led to some demoralization in the Party and will lead to still more, unless we get down on it and begin to root it out” was in the original “as is” version. This speaks for itself. Nothing on the important advances that had been made, nothing on the obvious fact a month and a half after July 4th that Party morale was overall high based on grasping and applying the Party’s line. A one-sided and demoralized view. Comrade Jarvis made the suggestions for the changes in both points 3 and 4.

The fifth paragraph was part of the additions, too, with the statement that the “left” and right idealist tendencies “are based on a refusal to take the world–including the level of struggle, consciousness and unity of the working class–as it is–and on that basis develop the lines and policies to change it, in accordance with the laws governing its development.” The tendency spoken to here is exactly what Comrade Avakian and the former rightists have consolidated on today.

The point is that the rectification paper distorts the struggle at the CC meeting. While there were criticisms from the right, there was also some correct criticism of the original “Some Points” which helped to oppose rightism and correct a demoralized view of the working class struggle and the work of the Party.

Who Is Making “High Road” A Dirty Word?

The question is not whether there were “two lines in the CC Report,” as the rectification paper puts it, but how two lines developed in the Party over the last year and more. They did in fact develop and one way they came out was in how people took the CC Report down, what they emphasized, how they interpreted it and applied it. This couldn’t be more clear than in the rectification bulletin itself where they have re-defined the “high road” in idealist and even Trotskyite fashion: “Though both points are important, the essential and basic point is not that small forces can lead big battles in this period, but that we can and must take the high, hard road, make use of every opportunity in this period to fulfill all three objectives in our work and prepare for the big qualitative leap in the revolutionary situation ahead.” (page 5)

When the “high road” is introduced on page 7 of “Some Points” (point 8), it is described as follows: “And that (the danger) is abandoning the hard road–and the high road–of perservering in the class struggle, and making every possible link with all struggles against the enemy, striving to fulfill the 3 objectives and preparing our own ranks and the masses for revolution when conditions are ripe.” (emphasis added)

At the end of “Concluding Remarks,” the “high road” is put this way: “What the high road means is striving to make qualitative advances step by step–without falling into any ’theory of stages’–waging big battles, together with the masses, and through every battle strengthening not only the masses but our own ranks, ideologically, politically, and organizationally.” (emphasis added)

The CC Report always has “making every possible link with all struggles against the enemy” or “waging big battles, together with the masses” as part of the high road. The rectification paper takes this out of the “high road” formulation and poses it against the high road. This is metaphysical and idealist, turns the high road into a call for retreat from the actual struggles the workers are waging and merging this with the socialist movement, and can only lead to all kinds of problems.

Just how fast the left idealists went down this road and what kind of problems they would lead us to we would see when we started our next major campaign in the working class after the July 4 campaign.

Correction: The quote from Concluding Remarks in the 3rd paragraph this section should read: “What sticking to the high road means is striving at every point to fulfill all 3 objectives, and striving to make qualitative advances in building toward the revolutionary goal, advancing step by step–without, etc.


The other major campaign in the working class our Party took up in its first two years was the campaign to found the NUWO, a campaign which involved to one degree or another all cadre in working class work for nearly a year. An analysis of the leading line and method in the Party during this campaign can only lead to one conclusion: that this line and method marked a major quantitative step in the development of left idealist line in a section of the Party leadership, a retreat from the political task of merging socialism with the workers’ movement and a total breakdown of the chain of knowledge/chain of command which in the Party is a reflection of the Marxist theory of knowledge.

Due to the desire of the working class to fight being crushed, to take up political questions and lead the fight for freedom–and the hard work of many, many Party members, some real advances were made in the campaign–but because of the leading “left” idealist line what was built was not an organization but a big meeting. Whether compared to the J-4 campaign or not, one can say the Party’s overall line was not deepened, and the cadre learned little, and ended the campaign as confused about what was going on as when the order came down to take it up. The fight against right idealism in our work, identified as a major problem in the second CC report, was not carried out–in fact right idealism was fed by the left idealist leading line.

We think because of the left idealist line the campaign should be re-named “The Campaign of the Four No’s.” That is:
1) No line on why form the organization at this time
2) No line developed to build it
3) No line and leadership at the convention
4) No reason why the cadre should be criticized for the way the convention came out.

And in doing this we especially want to aim the arrow at the appropriate target, this is Comrade A who led the national Party work team formed to head the campaign and who was responsible for the floor leadership and political content of the convention. We say “especially” because Comrade A and his close followers swear that his leadership in the campaign was a “model of communist leadership.” This opinion, for good reason, is not held generally by those comrades who attended the convention or helped to build the campaign.

No Line on Why Form the Organization at This Time

When this campaign was put forward at the 2nd Plenary CC Meeting, certain political questions and tasks were laid out that were essential to the building of the NUWO. In Discussions/Decisions the fact that 3 area-wide IWOs exist is laid out and questions are developed out of the experience of these and other IWOs: Why does the Programme say what it does about the overall role and the slogan that best sums it up “Workers Unite to Lead the Fight Against All Oppression” is crucial to winning workers to understand concretely the powerful role these organizations can play. Finally, understanding the overall role and slogan is crucial to avoid both left and right errors in our work. On top of all this is a call to sum up the J4 campaign and the work in building the IWOs so far (including the tendency to put their formation off into the future) as key tasks to get the ball rolling.

But at the same time, we find the formulation in the CC on building the NUWO (and repeated in later places) that one can see the potential idealist trip that Comrade A was about to send the Party on:

The key to it we feel is a political question, not the question of do we have the ties and contacts, but the political question of can we bring home to workers who would be the base of this organization and consolidate in their understanding the question of what it means for the working class to take up and lead the fight against all oppression, to infuse its strength, discipline and outlook into every battle and to develop key struggles into campaigns of the class? Because if we can politically solve that question we can develop such an organization. (Further Remarks, 23)

Is the question laid out above a political question? It certainly is. But in building organization such as the National United Workers Organization we must go beyond our deepened general understanding of “bringing home the question” and root this in conditions, time, and place that exist in the class struggle. The question of the objective situation of the working class 1976-77, must be taken up in developing a call for building such an organization in 1977. It is here that the question of developments in different industry, society, etc. and the response of different sections of our class (miners, steel, etc.) must be summed up. And it is on this stage of objective conditions that we must sum up the political developments and strength of the subjective forces, what role they can play on the stage–both to sum up the potential base of the NUWO and how we could build the NUWO based on the actual struggles of our class. Attempts to take up these questions at the CC meeting were written off as pragmatic. Attempts by cadre to take up this question–in one way or another–were also written off as pragmatic in many parts of the Party. This was in spite of the opening section of the CC report that stresses the necessity of grasping the relationship of objective and subjective conditions.

This is not to say it was wrong to go ahead and build the NUWO. A powerful campaign could have possibly led to decent advances for our class and Party. But already one could see the beginning separation from the real world–basing the NUWO solely on the idea in an idealist and metaphysical way–apart from conditions, time and place.

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

This “good idea” had some real difficulties taking hold. In Bulletin Vol. 2 #3, which came out in early summer 1977, almost a year after the original call was put out in the CC report, it says: “Not surprisingly, some of the difficulty comrades are having in grasping the role of this organization is similar to that of many workers outside the Party, it is seen as a ’good idea’ but just that–an idea, remote from the actual struggles and problems people face.” And then, just in case you forgot, the bulletin lays out the objective reasons for the formation this year of the NUWO. This was the first time such an analysis was to appear in a bulletin on the NUWO. The single paragraph is an empty defense, saying the NUWO call was based on an analysis of such and such factors–an analysis of conditions, time and place which had actually never been made, or if it had it has been kept secret to this day from all the cadre, including those on leading bodies of the Party.

It certainly was “not surprising” that many Party and nonparty members saw the NUWO as just a good idea because that is exactly how it was developed under Comrade A’s “model leadership,” never leaping beyond the level of general rational abstraction to revolutionary practice. And it is also not surprising that cadre and non-cadre shared the confusion, because both were operating under the same conditions in that neither were getting any leadership that was based on the real contradictions facing the working class. The way this bulletin reads you would assume there had been a deep analysis made that went into the present economic crisis, our ability to develop program and stand for the organization and how to conduct the struggle against right idealism especially in work at the center of gravity. And off of this assumption you would think that those who saw the NUWO as only a “good idea” had somehow missed the boat and needed even more summation to be able to continue with the majority on the march forward to build the NUWO.

But the real situation was the exact opposite of the above. Most of the great majority of comrades and advanced saw the NUWO as a “good idea” that never moved beyond the level of general abstraction–because the line never was deepened in the course of rooting it in the particular conditions and contradictions in the working class. This was certainly the experience of the Cleveland meeting where the cadre and the advanced left correctly feeling that all discussion was “up in the air,” and not much sense of what we were building other than an organization with an idea. We failed to take on a very real contradiction employed cadre and advanced face–the contradiction between winning people to the idea of fighting all oppression and the fact that our work is concentrated at the center of gravity.

While the center had initially posed some of the correct questions, called for summation and said they intended to keep on top of the campaign, none of this got much farther than putting the words down on paper. There was no organized discussion like that called for in the CC report, no organized summation of the J4 campaign, no organized discussion on “overall role” or “based in the shops,” not even any on the tendency to postpone the building of the local IWOs. The Party chain of knowledge/chain of command did not function so that political line could be developed based on “concrete analysis of concrete conditions,” then deepened as it was tested in practice in the struggle to implement that line. The Marxist theory of knowledge (perceptual to conceptual, and then a leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice) was not grasped and applied in our Party.

Was this because Comrade A was lazy, or a liar, maybe? It was because he had a wrong line, a line that says ideas themselves are a material force. Actually, it’s the Gang of 4 line that if you grasp revolution, production will automatically follow. All you have to do is put out the idea of summation and it will be summed up.

Ideas are not a material force, they become a material force when they are grasped by the masses and put into practice in the struggle to change the world. Mao spoke to this point in “Concerning Methods of Leadership”: “In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily ’from the masses, to the masses.’ This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas) then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge.” (Selected Works, Vol. 3, p. 236)

From the very beginning, the idealist notion that ideas themselves are a material force took a left form in the leading line in the campaign. The campaign became in fact an ideological struggle to win the minds of the workers away from trade unionism and the minds of cadre away from economism in favor of “fighting all oppression”–apart from the actual class struggle. Supposedly if this was done then the organization would be formed on a correct basis.

The Two “Breakthrough Tools”

Suddenly, however, in Bulletin Vol. 2, #3, we get a main switch in gears in the campaign as we are now given the formulation of two “very dialectically” related tasks. That is–build the NUWO “through the course of struggle,” and “in its own right.” These “breakthrough tools” are to help us resolve that old problem–the continuing failure for the Party to continue to “understand the role of the NUWO.” It was summed up in NB Vol. 2, #3, that the “basis for this (problem) is that the role of this national workers organization is still not firmly grasped in many cases, and there is still considerable confusion around this question of how to build it–especially around the relationship between building it ’in its own right,’ and building it in relation to struggle, and generally the relationship between building struggle now and building the NUWO.” (page 1)

On page 2, the bulletin goes deeper into the problems in grasping this relationship, where it makes the summation: “So far there has been a significant weakness in this regard, a tendency to wall off struggle from the task of building the NUWO, instead of finding the ways to link the task of building it with ongoing struggle.” Then the bulletin lays out the solution to this problem:

In order to overcome this weakness, comrades working in plants in general must pay attention to the question of bringing out the NUWO–and the fact that they, along with other workers, are active in building it–when they are involved in building struggle. This not only means basic things, like wearing the T-shirt and button regularly, and especially when involved in struggle, but also finding other ways to bring up the NUWO in the course of struggles, as well as consistently bringing it out in the work, the publications, etc. of existing organizations in plants, industries, unions, areas, if done correctly, workers who see the role comrades–and other workers–involved in building the NUWO are playing in building struggle will want to know more about the NUWO, because they will begin to see that there is some connection between it and the struggles they are involved in.

What happened to the big idea about the struggle against all oppression and how politically we were going to bring home this question to the working class? It has disappeared without ever being summed up. Now all of a sudden here’s Comrade A–who’s failed to lead the Party in developing any political line to actively build the NUWO in accordance with resolving the actual contradictions in the working class–falling into tactics as process. Now the new heart of our line is “in its own right,” and “in the course of struggle.” Even two “very dialectical” tactics still cannot be substituted for political line. Now, the simple battle was on to bring the most workers possible to the convention–through these tactics–all political line was thrown out the window and confusion reigned.

Chain of Knowledge Broken

The chain of knowledge/chain of command in the Party broke down throughout this campaign. There was no up and down summation and development of line–basically comrades were told all along that the only problem was that they weren’t grasping the line of winning the workers to the understanding of “fight all oppression.” In fact, since there was no overall political line ever developed on how to do this (making the leap back to revolutionary practice) and no summation or deepening of the line in the course of the campaign, branches were inevitably left with only their own immediate experience and so there was a tendency toward “tactics as process,” gimmicks–encouraged by the gimmick line from the center–“wear a T-shirt about the NUWO when you’re fighting at the center of gravity, that’ll get ’em.”

This breach of the mass line in the Party and breach of Marxist theory of knowledge, based on Comrade A’s “left” idealist line–will inevitably breed problems in our Party. For the leadership it will deepen and further develop their separation from the masses and increase the basis for idealism–whether in “left” or right form. For those local cadres, branches and comrades who are actively seeking to apply political line to concrete conditions to change the world, it will only breed tendencies toward empiricism and “tactics as process.” As they can only base their political line on their own experience as a branch, city body, etc. as the leading center of the Party is not leaping beyond the task of raising knowledge to the rational level and returning to revolutionary practice, and not deepening the Party’s general overall line off summation of the knowledge gained in the process of the class and Party actively changing the world. This was why both our overall general line on leading the working class movement in this country and line on various political questions concerning the NUWO, center of gravity, etc. never deepened or developed.

Other Important Points

At this time a couple of basic points need to be made. Number 1–In the campaign for the NUWO the struggle at the center of gravity is always spoken to in relationship to other broader struggles, like a stepping stone to the “real battles” or as a given–“build the struggle, build more struggle,” etc. Concentrate in the struggles of the workers at the center of gravity has come more and more to mean only a physical concentration, “get jobs in the big plants,” rather than a political line and ideological question. Rather than a battle we took up shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow workers with all our hearts and minds, it was mentioned only as a grudging concession to the backwardness of the workers, and largely ignored altogether in bulletins and sum-ups.

Number 2–Just like we did not break through the middle on the all oppression question, we are not breaking through on the fusion of Marxism with the workers movement. Comrade A thinks that the comrades having general ideological line divorced from political analysis of the actual concrete conditions operating will be able to break through. When they don’t Comrade A talks about “pragmatism” and “economist” tendencies and retreats more and more from the class struggle generally.

Now, of course, the cadre can’t retreat as far as Comrade A can, they are trying to uphold the Party’s line on the center of gravity for our work, so for the cadre the retreat is a political and ideological one–the separation between the day to day struggle and building a class conscious workers movement gets more and more pronounced, as does the head dancing by leadership for “rightism.” All this causes is demoralization, the feeling that not much can be done and continued disorientation from the task of uniting with and leading the actual struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie on all fronts.

Learn By Changing the World

Comrades should ask themselves, in a one-year campaign to build a workers organization what did they learn about applying Marxism to the day-to-day struggles of the working class? What did we learn about developing the struggle of the working class, the sense of organization and the training and recruitment of communist revolutionaries.

Or what was deepened about the mood of the masses, the nature and main forms of the class struggle at this time, how to fight in a revolutionary way in the unions, how to unite Black and white and other nationalities in and out of the shops.

Or, in fact, what was developed off of the general stand of the organization, what does it stand for in relationship to the big questions like the imports, the illegals, the right to strike, the question of jobs or income and the Carter offensive. What advances were made on how the NUWO can be a weapon in the class war? How much of an organization was actually developed?

On all these questions we failed to move beyond the general knowledge and line of the Party–because we never deepened it–in the course of applying it to concrete conditions and changing the world. None of the original political questions spoken to at the CC meeting–around building of the NUWO, were deepened at all. Comrade A can’t lead the Party to deepen and develop its line because his line no longer leaps beyond rational knowledge back into revolutionary practice of changing the world. We raise this because the line of Comrade A is to retreat from the struggle in the face of difficulties, a retreat to idealism.

The Real Promoter of Rightism

But we can hear the response now–How can you talk about these struggles when a right-wing pragmatic line holds sway in the work. Nothing can really be done until “you pragmatists” get off your line or get the hell out of the Party and then we will be able to really fight all oppression and not be rightists.

Well, we ask who’s line leads fundamentally to rightism in practice. Despite various forces wearing the mantle of “fighters of empiricism and pragmatism,” their line inevitably leads those who are dealing with the actual contradictions in the working class to fall into pragmatism and empiricism.

Is the way to break through the separation of the day to day struggle from the task of building a class conscious workers movement to fight hard and wear a button or a T-shirt? Will the determination of the two tasks of “in the course of struggle” and “in its own right”, which is nothing but raising a tactic to a “political line” with absolutely no political content, will this put politics in command to either lead the struggle or to overcome the problems of right idealism in the Party? The answer is clear. Comrade A does not look at these questions as political questions–they are drab mundane work of the cadre and they will automatically be taken up if they grasp his general idea. This leads the comrades alone to develop political line to move forward the actual contradictions–inevitably breeding politics based on narrow and immediate experience. Or else, if they take up Comrade A’s line–they are only tactical questions and not really political.

With this outlook you not only do not develop line, but you don’t deepen the line that is developed. Because the spiral of knowledge is broken the same problems keep rolling right back in with no motion forward, while comrades get more confused over what is right and wrong.

In the NUWO campaign where very little line was developed, you also had very little deepening of line. This was made more than clear by the founding convention in September.

No Leadership at the Convention

The convention was a true reflection of the strengths and weaknesses of the entire campaign. The desire of the working class to get organized and fight to build a new world and the hard work of the cadre brought out a good crowd. But despite the high turnout, most people left the convention with a lot of questions about what exactly had been accomplished.

The organization had been formed and that was a big step, but the political questions, who came, of how much people were united, and how much could be consolidated back in the local areas were big in peoples minds. The plenary meetings were inspiring and some of the struggle was good but the question of how this organization could be a powerful weapon larger than its numbers, what its program would be both in an overall sense and in the industrial sections, were still very unclear. In fact, for a workers organization based in the shops and industries, the industrial workshops in the great majority of cases were disorganized and at a low level, a combination of denunciation of the bosses and shop experience which would have been okay if it had been unfolded around some political line to build the struggle in the industries. And that demanded political leadership.

But as has been pointed out before, the leader of the work (Comrade A) thought that the cadre had been well armed to lead with line at the convention. In fact, in the bulletin sent out right before the convention Comrade A lays out that the problem will not be too little line but too much. On page 2 he says, “Comrades will obviously exert significant influence on the discussion at the convention and they should actively take part. But we do not want this to be on the basis that the Party has a comprehensive position, worked out in every detail, on every question that will come up at the convention, and every comrade memorizes those positions and rigidly adheres to them throughout. The Party does have basic policies on the questions that will be focused on at the convention and all comrades should study Party documents and publications relating to the main questions to be discussed at the convention, especially in the “social question” workshops, and should strive to put the content of the Party’s policies forward in a living way and struggle concretely from that standpoint.”

We think from our view of the convention that A’s wish not to have a detailed line on every question was certainly granted. The difference between what he thought was the problem and what in fact happened is so stark that it is amazing. No political goals were set on what exactly we expected to be able to accomplish at the convention. In auto some of the leaders met for the first time when they walked into the workshop. In electrical some of the major line questions came as a surprise to most cadre. We had a workshop and even launched a campaign around fascist groups, and the Party has hardly held a discussion of fascism. We even held a demonstration that had something to do with busing which to this day hardly anybody understands. Many key questions on the agenda were never discussed at all. No leading fraction ever met throughout the convention. Compare the line developed for this convention–the general call to “study Party documents and publications relating to the main questions to be discussed at the convention”–with the preparation for the Detroit UWOC national meeting. A general political goal for the meeting was set, line was developed and short papers written by chapters on different questions facing the organization, these were circulated before the meeting to rely on and involve the advanced in the political struggles, a leadership core was set up which met throughout the two days of the meeting to guide the work of Party cadre during the meeting. And UWOC was actually more consolidated, politically stronger, when we came out of it.

The entire pre-convention bulletin which is supposed to form the basic guidelines and objectives is filled with generally what should happen and what the cadre must do. But nowhere is there any breakdown on how all this is going to be accomplished. Again, for an idealist the ’should do’s’ and the ’must watch out fors’ is concrete leadership, but for changing the world and dealing with the actual contradiction all these wishes fall far short. This much reality has forced us to accept. The only question left is who is to be blamed for it.

No Reason Why the Comrades Should Be Blamed for the Weakness of A’s Line

Finally we get this big sum up on the campaign. But no, since the effort was one to build a meeting and not an organization, there was not much to sum up except the convention. So we have the sum up of the convention. We don’t know what A is going to do about summing up the campaign for the whole Party. He, of course, has a summation–he did a model job and all the weaknesses belong to the revisionist headquarters and the cadre’s [sic] rightism.

The summation of the convention can be described in one word–disgusting. It is a clumsy job of changing wrong into right and turning the world upside down. The comrades who made something out of a poor situation and almost no leadership get criticized for the tendency to replace substance with enthusiasm. What a crock of shit, the cadre made no such decision because there was very little substance to start with to replace with anything. The point is that the lack of substance was certainly nothing to be enthusiastic about, but the size of the crowd and the fact that we were founding the organization was something to be enthusiastic about.

A, who is primarily responsible for the lack of substance and the role of the Party at the convention (unless this too was a task of the NUWO leadership) comes out smelling like a rose. The whole bulletin is nothing but an attack on those who tried to deal with the contradiction under A’s line while A’s last bulletin is “proven” (once again) to be correct on every point (in fact its main weakness was that it didn’t make the points strong enough).

A, we are sure, will deny the charge that he is an idealist and that his grasp of what went on at the convention, as reflected in his bulletin, is the correct interpretation. Was the problem at the convention the substitution of enthusiasm for substance? No it wasn’t. But even if it was, where’s the substance of the criticism, where’s the line errors, where is the attempt of the center to educate the cadres based on Marxism of why mistakes were made. There is no attempt to do this, instead what the cadre get is a dressing down for their lack of substance. Maybe we read the wrong documents and publications in our preparations for this convention.

And anyway where is the materialism that led A to pick upon this point in a campaign marked by unclarity and confusion and its separation of the day-to-day struggles and the task of building the NUWO from the very beginning. Comrade A had an idealist line in initiating the campaign, in leading the campaign, and in summing it up. What consistency! Maybe this is what is meant by model communist leadership. Again we ask our comrades, what was learned with this sum up? After reading it do we have a better grasp of how to unite with the struggles of the workers, to bend every effort to fulfill the three goals of the struggle? Have we learned anything about leading the struggle on the job and off from Comrade A’s thought? Anything about building the NUWO as a weapon in the class struggle?


The internal development of the Party has also been affected by the developing idealist tendency of the Party Center to leave line at the rational level, fail to return it to revolutionary practice, apply it to the concrete conditions we face, and sum things up. Internal campaigns are launched, run for a while, and are called off–and cadre are often unsure about what came and went. Does anybody know if the “War and Revolution” campaign is over? The mass line campaign came and went–how was it summed up? Suddenly page 3 of Revolution became issues to have campaigns around. The Banner Book was thrown at the cadre. District level political education courses with a monstrous set of readings were set up–and dropped immediately in almost every district, because it was never based on a concrete summation of the necessities of the class struggle in the US today, including the theoretical level of the District bodies. The Party branches articles were printed and studied–again, what was summed up? And of course there’s the mountain of bulletins sent out over the last several months as Comrade Avakian sought to line up his forces to smash the so-called “revisionist headquarters”, especially the China bulletins, with each one seemingly unrelated to the last.

Many of these campaigns (and at one time there were 4 or 5 internal campaigns going on at once) were developed isolated from conditions, time and place. There was no relationship either developed between different campaigns which meant that anarchy reigned. Nor was there any relationship developed between the internal campaigns of the Party and its mass work. And there were no political tasks and goals set, no ongoing guidance and deepening of line to further initiative, and no overall summation based on Marxism-Leninism to deepen the line of the Party on these questions, as well as its line overall. Once again, the chain of knowledge is completely broken.

What can be more clear? The Party Center sends one idea after another down through the Party. The Party members try the best they can to get their bearings and take it up. Once again, cadre have to grasp the very real political questions, such as the tasks and goals of these campaigns, their relationship to each other, and their relationship to the mass work, with only their own experience to guide them. Apparently these questions are not “political” enough for the left idealists who hate to root line in the actual contradictions in the Party, in the working class and throughout society as a whole. And of course, because the Party center has failed to make the leap from general line to revolutionary practice they cannot learn from the process of changing the world and so are unable to sum up this experience with Marxism-Leninism, and move the overall knowledge of the Party forward. This is what has marked many of the internal Party campaigns in the last year.

Self-Study: The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

The low theoretical level of the Party was identified as a major problem at the ’76 CC meeting. However, we have failed to make breakthroughs on this question, largely because of a decision at the ’75 CC meeting over which there had been a good deal of struggle. That decision was that the main form of the Party’s theoretical development should be self-study. This has only served to widen the gap in theoretical development between those who are skilled at studying and have a relatively high level of theoretical development to start with and those who are not skilled at studying and are newer to the Party. This latter includes many of the workers in the Party who the MPR says we are to rely on as a social force in the Party.

Once again, its simply “the idea” which is supposed to make everything flow automatically. The logic is simple. Comrades are pragmatic and only interested in what works. If they could only struggle to see the importance of theory, they would take it up on their own.

The struggle to raise the theoretical level of our Party is extremely important and must be taken up as a conscious battle. It must go beyond general pronouncements on the role of theory and then directives to read Revolution, The Communist, and the Banner Book. What is the actual level of theoretical development in the Party, around political economy, philosophy, etc.? How can we develop the theoretical struggle in our Party so that the workers come forward as a social force around it? How does it relate to major questions in our Party such as right and left idealism? How does it link up to the major overall questions of political line facing the Party right now? But as usual these types of questions are barely touched on, if they are addressed at all, and so spontaneity reigns. Also there has developed such a strong petit-bourgeois style of writing, particularly in theoretical articles, that many comrades have felt “when they get into the theoretical stuff they don’t even try to make it understandable.”

All this does is promote confusion and even resentment among the cadre towards theory. When comrades got the Banner Book thrown at them like it was a drugstore novel and were told to read it in self-study, everyone asked how? Not because they were stubbornly opposed to study, but because they got no help to study. The center’s only guidance was generally, grasp the role of theory and stop being a pragmatist. Some comrades developed an anti-theory attitude that certain questions such as political economy and philosophy are for intellectuals only. Thus the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.


The rectification bulletin constantly refers to “Jimmy Higgins,” “results,” “the entire general resides in the particular,” and other gems to keep the initiative out of the hands of the comrades so they’re running around trying to find the real lines behind all this. Here’s a few points around some of these gems to help clarify the issues and rectify the distortions in the rectification bulletin.

Jimmie Higgins Goes the Way of Chou En-lai and Chen Yung-kuei Or,–Reversing the Correct Verdict on Jimmy Higgins

While the rectification paper is taking the “Revisionist Headquarters” to task for its methods of leadership, a blow is also aimed in the direction of Jimmie Higgins. Now up to this point in history, before the present CC of our Party got their hands on him, Jimmie Higgins has always been a heroic figure in the workers’ movement. He is mentioned here as though everybody should already know all about him, but the Center must be hoping that no-one will read William Z. Foster’s description of Jimmie Higgins in Pages From a Worker’s Life:

Jimmie Higgins is that active rank and file element which the French call the militant. He is the type of tireless, devoted, disciplined, self-sacrificing and brave worker–the very salt of the working class. Wherever there is hard, slogging work to be done, Jimmie Higgins is on hand. When the going gets tough and dangerous he is always in the front line inspiring the masses to struggle. He is the rank and file builder of every union, party and other working class body. And his reward is simply the feeling of his proletarian duty well done. Usually he is quite unknown to fame or glory, except in the esteem of his circle of contacts, who admire and love him.
The Jimmie Higgins’ are the natural heads of the toilers. All dynamic working-class leaders have been of this category. It is especially among them that the Communist Party recruits its members. In making a Communist of Jimmie Higgins, the Party enormously increases his efficiency by infusing him with class consciousness, by transforming his primitive proletarian militancy into burning revolutionary zeal.
I have always been inspired by the Jimmie Higgins’ militants. Their modesty, sincerity, selflessness, courage and invincibility are the qualities of the great heart of the proletariat itself. My experience in the trade union and revolutionary movement has been lighted up by innumerable devoted actions of these unknown but heroic working class fighters.
. . .It was such valiant proletarian fighters who carried ... through the Russian Revolution, who are holding back the fascist legions in Spain and China and who will finally, by their unconquerable spirit, put an end to capitalism everywhere. (pp. 280-282)

But to the present CC all this means only that Jimmie Higgins is just a dumb mule of a worker, “good for loyal and hard work, and little more.” Their idealism can only lead them to this: the heroic struggle of the cadre and the masses, who are stuck down there in the actual contradictions facing our class (also known as “real life”), are nothing; the ideas of the Center, everything. How the world has been turned upside down! How right and wrong have been reversed in the heady idealism of these geniuses! For they have forgotten even that most basic of Marxist truths:

... the masses are the real heroes, while we ourselves are often childish and ignorant, and without this understanding it is impossible to acquire even the most rudimentary knowledge. (Mao, Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 12)

We call on the great theoreticians behind this “sectification” paper to learn from the spirit of Jimmie Higgins, to learn from the cadre, to learn from the masses.

Attack on Results–Cover to Attack Direct Experience

It is good to hear these comrades at least mention “results”, even if it is only to oppose summing up work. It’s true that results must be measured according to the 3 objectives and on all 3 fronts of the class struggle, not just by counting heads at a meeting or at a march–this has been hammered home a dozen times in Revolution articles and bulletins. And it’s true that a successful meeting or action can make comrades “dizzy with success” and blur their Marxist-Leninist analysis, although anyone who thinks this “dizzy with success” is a major current in the Party today is very out of touch with the cadre.

But comrades should ask themselves, does the Party spend too much time summing up results, or too little? Did the Worker bulletin sum up too much? The leading comrade in that area never left his city or called a meeting of responsible cadres until the line on local bi-weeklies was already out. Did we correctly sum up the objective situation including our subjective forces and our work in building IWOs up to this point before and during the NUWO campaign? Have we summed up the results of the Banner Book self-study program? As a matter of fact, over the last year what campaign of the Party–either in mass work or internal to the Party has been summed up. Is not the summation of direct experience our application of Marxism to concrete conditions and the results of this important to sum up?

Since the MPR and certainly since the last CC Report it is generally understood that results means 3 objectives/3 fronts. So what’s the purpose of pitting the 3 objectives against immediate results?

The effect of this line is to make “results” taboo. Don’t feel that through raising to rational form your experiences in the Party’s work that you have anything special to say in Party meetings. If you do it would more than likely be from careerism or sectarianism than from a desire to fight the bourgeoisie. Direct experience in particular becomes inadmissable in Party discussion–anything that might go against the rationalist line of the Center is downgraded as merely “immediate results” or “work-as-capital”. The present leadership of the Party has fallen into exactly the error warned against in On Practice:

Hence a man’s knowledge consists only of two parts, that which comes from direct experience and that which comes from indirect experience. Moreover, what is indirect experience for me is direct experience for other people. Consequently, considered as a whole, knowledge of any kind is inseparable from direct experience. All knowledge originates in perception of the objective external world through man’s physical sense organs. Anyone who denies such perception, denies direct experience, or denies personal participation in the practice that changes reality, is not a materialist. (Mao Tse-tung, Selected Readings, p. 59)

An idealist line must oppose summing up results to get over because its line does not coincide with reality, and summing up the results of that line or of a materialist line opposed to theirs, is a threat and can only prove them wrong.

General and Particular

As Mao points out in “On Contradiction,” understanding the relationship of general and particular is a critical part of understanding materialist dialectics and the Marxist theory of knowledge. It is a major philosophical question, critical for a party to have a correct understanding of, if it is to stay on the road of proletarian revolution. Mao’s writings on this subject, particularly “On Contradiction” and the related “On Practice” are crucial for comrades to read so that we can all develop a clear understanding of this question particularly now when right and wrong are being revised. As Mao was “strictly Marxist” he was able to struggle with those who were not proceeding from objective conditions–the actual contradictions and class relations in society–without opening the door to empiricism and negating the importance of rational knowledge and theoretical concepts in making revolution. A quote from Mao points out the role of the particular and general in the theory of knowledge and also warns us of dogmatists who always must launch an attack on the particularity of contradiction to back up their reactionary political line.

These are the two processes of cognition: one, from the particular to the general, and the other, from the general to the particular. Thus cognition always moves in cycles and (so long as scientific method is strictly adhered to) each cycle advances human knowledge a step higher and so makes it more and more profound. Where our dogmatists err on this question is that, on the one hand, they do not understand that we have to study the particularity of contradiction and know the particular essence of individual things before we can adequately know the universality of contradiction and the common essence of things, and that, on the other hand, they do not understand that after knowing the common essence of things, we must go further and study the concrete things that have not yet been thoroughly studied or have only just emerged. Our dogmatists are lazy bones. They refuse to undertake the painstaking study of concrete things, they regard general truths as emerging out of the void, they turn them into purely abstract unfathomable formulas, and thereby completely deny and reverse the normal sequence by which man comes to know truth. Nor do they understand the interconnection of the two processes of cognition–from the particular to the general and then from the general to the particular. They understand nothing of the Marxist theory of knowledge. (On Contradiction)

Straw Man Argument to Promote Dogma

One way to get over with an absurd point is to set up and then knock down another absurd point. Have everyone concentrate on a stupid argument, and point out what’s wrong with it while you slip in your madness as to the way to look at things.

The song and dance about the “entire general resides in the particular” is an attack on the importance of the particularity of contradiction. Of course the entire general laws of capitalism cannot reside within any one particular contradiction capitalism creates (exploitation, war, etc.). The entire general laws of capitalism only fully reside in capitalist society as a whole.

So what’s going on here? The bulletin uses the fact that general laws of society as a whole do not reside within any particular contradiction–to lead us away from the fact that general laws do reside within every particular contradiction and to attack the concept the general resides in the particular.

Doesn’t the struggle for African Liberation boldly feature laws of class society–the necessity for imperialists to export capital, the contention of the two superpowers and steps to war, the role of the state when its rule and authority are threatened, the source of discrimination and repression. Aren’t certain laws of capitalism seen in the particular phenomenon of police repression? The role of the police as watchdogs to maintain order, the role of the courts, the source of discrimination, etc.

And here is where all these characters fall down–the particular contradictions are too difficult to deal with, so let’s just deal with the universal. They don’t take up analyzing particular contradictions (whether this be around layoffs in industry, the Bicentennial, Kent State, etc.) and using Marxist theory and our overall understanding of class society to grasp the laws governing the development of these particular phenomena and contradictions the masses are increasingly entering into struggle around and placing them in the light of the overall class war. And then returning to the concrete conditions, developing policies so the Party can build these struggles and carry out all 3 objectives.

It is true that sometimes comrades limit the amount of exposures, ideological work, etc. to only the questions that exist within a particular phenomena. And this will inevitably lead to rightism. Because every law and lesson of capitalist society does not reside within every particular contradiction. But the answer is not to lead people away from analyzing and summing up the actual contradictions our class face on the economic, political and theoretical front. We should get better at this “concrete analysis of concrete conditions–the living soul of Marxism” as Lenin said.

Our new task is to ”fully make use of people’s experiences in any particular struggle” to raise them up to our rational view of the world. “Fully use people’s experiences in any struggle” becomes the fighting slogan of those who once stood behind the slogan that correctly laid out the relationship of struggle and consciousness: “Build the struggle, consciousness and unity of the working class. . .”

This view is bound to failure as it fails to see the correct relation between the objective and subjective world. At no time are our ideas fully in accordance with objective reality. As Mao often points out, even when communists are doing their best work their ideas still lag behind objective reality. And the objective world is constantly changing, contradictions move on, new ones develop, etc. As Mao points out, the “rationalist’s” theory (“the big picture”) is divorced from the experiences of the objective world and the struggle to change it, and they inevitably have their theory “petrify and wither away.” And that’s exactly what’s going down at the Party center right now. The words of Mao ring out true where he calls out the doom of the rationalists who divorce themselves from the real world:

Anyone who thinks that rational knowledge need not be derived from perceptual knowledge is an idealist. In the history of philosophy there is the ’rationalist’ school that admits the reality only of reason and not of experience, believing that reason alone is reliable while perceptual experience is not; this school errs by turning things upside down. The rational is reliable precisely because it has its source in sense perceptions, otherwise it would be like water without a source, a tree without roots, subjective, self-engendered and unreliable. (Mao, On Practice)

Steering the Truck Is Easier When It’s Moving

Comrade Jarvis is criticized for advocating the idea that “it’s easier to steer a truck once it’s moving.” It’s true that he did promote this–to oppose the idealist and metaphysical line and method of “develop the line in full (apriori), then all that remains is to call on the cadre to ’grasp’ it so they in turn can call on the workers to ’grasp’ it.” Never mind the conditions, time and place on the basis of which a line has to be both initially developed and deepened. The left idealist line on the Banner book and building the NUWO are only a couple of examples of this. The phrase about the truck emphasized deepening line in the course of practice and opposed apriorist idealism, the line that Mao criticizes in “The Important Thing is to Be Good at Learning.”

The process of knowing a situation goes on not only before the formulation of a military plan but also after. In carrying out the plan from the moment it is put into effect to the end of the operation, there is another process of knowing the situation, namely, the process of practice. In the course of this process, it is necessary to examine anew whether the plan worked out in the preceding process corresponds with reality, or if it does not fully do so, then in the light of our new knowledge, it becomes necessary to form new judgements, make new decisions and change the original plan so as to meet the new situation. The plan is partially changed in almost every operation, and sometimes it is even changed completely. A rash man who does not understand the need for such alterations or is unwilling to make them, but who acts blindly, will inevitably run his head against a brick wall.

Reading is learning, but applying is also learning and the more important kind of learning at that. . . (Mao, Selected Readings, p. 50-51)

Compare this with the apriorist idealist line which comes out again right in the bulletin when it states “It is correct to say that it is necessary to let practice develop and experience accumulate in order to sort out and convince people of correct and incorrect lines–as opposed to having a ’2-line struggle’ every week.” What about learning and developing line in the process of practice. Before this bulletin, most comrades were under the impression that we engaged in social practice to change the world, to fight the bourgeoisie and move closer to revolution and communism. We stand corrected. We have now learned that we engage in practice so we have a better basis to be won to the Center’s correct ideas.

This is why Comrade Jarvis pushed the so-called “theory of spontaneity” in the phrase about the truck.


In looking over the rectification bulletin one can say that the lack of theoretical and political line is astounding. One-half of the standing committee is removed, one-half of the political committee removed, almost one-half of the voting Central Committee members removed, suppressed or surrounded, and not a word of explanation on how the line of the so-called revisionist clique came out in relation to changing the world. All we get is a few quick quips of “economism,” “industrial concentration,” “AS IS,” “Jimmy Higgins,” and “workers as capital.” What can be behind this–those who wrap themselves in the banner of theory putting out anti-Marxist trash? Let’s try and go through some of the possible reasons for the bulletin’s shallowness.
1. They decided to be nice to Micky–after all they make a great deal out of calling him ”Comrade Jarvis.” But no, this would be a violation of their principles laid out in their “China paper ”where they talk about the need to criticize heavily all those who have erred–both to provide the basis for a comrade to rectify and to actually win the comrade over. One cannot believe that we would get one line on the theory of criticism and self-criticism in one paper and another line in practice. (It’s those guys who hurry out with Jarvis who acted that way.)
2. Lack of time–and they wanted to get the rectification campaign rolling. It can’t be that–this would be a violation of a principle that they have in the rectification bulletin itself. Their vulgarization of the concept “get the truck rolling” says you should not simply get something started when it’s not based on a firm political line.
3. No, with this bulletin what you can really see is the rough position that the Central Committee is in. They want to avoid serious political struggle around the line they are promoting–until later on. First they want to create public opinion for their line, popularize the fact that a revisionist coup has been stopped, and get people to think now major line question has developed and to organizationally move what they hope are those with the center’s line (or at least confused or ignorant of it) into the positions of authority that many people were removed from–which includes a large number of districts and departments. Then, once public opinion is created, people are more set in their ways and their people are in the organizational spots–then we get the rectification campaign. That’s why for now comrades are getting an appetizer for the big meal to come. And party members are left chasing around over “as is,” “workers as capital,” “Jimmy Higgins”–but no development of ideological and political line (not counting the distortions).

This might seem far-fetched to say they are creating public opinion, setting themselves up organizationally, and then coming up with the political line. But was not this also the way the “China Question” was developed? What did the China bulletins do other than create public opinion that we were slowly but surely going to take a position supporting the Gang of 4–only to have it rammed right down at the proper time. Each bulletin, rather than arming people with an understanding of the tools to analyze and study China–led you down one road or down another road, only to find out the road was a dead end. In a number of areas the major battles that were going on in branches and bodies were over the profound “strictly Marxist” point “concentrate or reflect”–only to find out from the chair who once created this damn point that “it doesn’t really matter.” So the party members keep getting told of the seriousness of the question, and told to go chasing after phony anti-Marxist arguments (“Don’t read the Marxist classics,” Bob told one district committee about discussing China, “You’ll just get confused.”) and then one day–you get an entire line rammed down.


Given all these developments–the idealist strain in the Party’s Center line that was coming out over the NUWO campaign, the internal party campaigns, self study and a number of other questions, the overall line of the RCP still was in the ball park and a number of different areas of work bear this out. The rising tendency was still in its quantitative stage of development and it was also being fought strongly on many of the leading bodies of the Party. Certainly open rebellion against the Party Center for these different lines would have been wrong and premature. They still were to be struggled out in the channels of the Party. And the fact that almost all cadre were shocked that this line struggle was going on is proof that this struggle was going on in the regular channels, with a very few exceptions.

Mostly at this point the “left” strain was helping to create a great deal of confusion throughout the Party over what is right and wrong and how to resolve problems that were sometimes correctly identified. For instance, certain articles from the Center would identify empiricism as a major problem in our Party and this would be correct. But the line of the Center would increasingly feed that empiricism as it would leave the development of political line to change the world to spontaneity.

But if you stay stuck at the rational level–at general knowledge or general line–and do not deepen and develop that general knowledge and line in the course of changing the world–corrosion will set in on the general line itself and it will become more and more isolated from objective reality. As Mao notes it will inevitably petrify and wither away. This is at the heart of a great deal of the Party’s Center’s increasing errors, due to its retreat from dealing with the actual contradictions of the class struggle.

It is this corrosion which can be seen when one traces the line of the Party in the last year which formed the internal basis for the leap to the ideological and political outlook of the Gang of 4. It’s a clear lesson to all of us that no matter how good you talk, no matter how logical your arguments may sound, no one can isolate themselves from the actual contradictions of society and the masses and not have their line “petrify and wither away.” Let this be a critical lesson to all of us.

To help comrades deepen their understanding of these points we would suggest that comrades read articles by Lenin–“Urgent Tasks of Our Movement,” “Retrograde Trend in Social Democracy” and “Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder.” This is to take up the question of fusion of socialist movement with the working class movement on a desirable basis–and how under different conditions different tendencies arose.

The other critical question to take up is the Marxist theory of knowledge and the relationship of theory and practice. We would suggest comrades read “On Practice,” “On Contradiction,” “The Important Thing is to Be Good at Learning,” and “Where Do Correct Ideas Come From.”

Over a given period there is only so long one can stay at the rational level and not have the overall rational line corrode. And while Comrade Avakian’s line was quantitatively on the road to the leap to the outlook of the Gang of 4, it had not happened until the line on China, and the rectification paper.

Today things have changed. The leap has been made. The present CC is hell-bent on turning the proud red banner of our Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, into a miserable white flag of reaction and surrender. We cannot deny this, though some will try. We can’t avoid this, though some will seek a way. We must not fear this, though this Party has been our home and our hope. We must fight, for that is the duty of all revolutionary Marxist-Leninists. We have not come this far to fall back in the face of difficulties.

Let us take as our model the stand of Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communist Party in the face of a far greater setback to the struggle of our class, the rise to power of revisionism in the Soviet Union:

. . . our attitude as Marxist-Leninists is the same as our attitude towards any “disturbance”–first, we are against it; second, we are not afraid of it.
We did not wish it and are opposed to it, but since the revisionist Khrushchov clique have already emerged, there is nothing terrifying about them, and there is no need for alarm. The earth will continue to revolve, history will continue to move forward, the people of the world will, as always, make revolutions, and the imperialists and their lackeys will inevitably meet their doom....
The proletariat is sure to win the whole world and communism is sure to achieve complete and final victory on earth. (On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons, p. 74)

Our job is to sharpen our line in criticism of this new idealism in our Party. Our job is to toughen our spirits in rebellion against these new opportunists who would drive Marxism-Leninism and Marxist-Leninists from our Party.

Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist militants of the RCP unite! Unite so that by whatsoever means necessary our class will not be robbed of its Marxist-Leninist vanguard!