Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

“Center of Gravity” Repudiated

Economic Struggle & Revolutionary Tasks

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First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 9, July 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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At the Founding Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1975, a formulation was adopted which said that ̶The Party’s main concentration–its ’center of gravity’–must now be in the day to day struggle of the workers around wages, working conditions, layoffs, jobs, etc...” This formulation and the policy it represented was wrong. It was formally repudiated by the Second Congress of the RCP in early 1978.

This formulation was an error which ran counter to the overall revolutionary line adopted by the Founding Congress and reaffirmed by the Second Congress. But far worse than the formulation itself was what was done with it by M. Jarvis and L. Bergman, two former leading members of the RCP, who did their best to defend and develop incorrect tendencies which existed within the Party and use them to whip up a whole consolidated opportunist line in direct opposition to the line of the Party. The struggle against the economism peddled by Jarvis and Bergman under the “center of gravity” label became increasingly acute within the Party as a key component of the overall two line struggle between the revolutionary line of the Party and its Central Committee and the eclecticism, pragmatism and factionalism of the Jarvis-Bergman clique.

It is fitting that the Second Congress, which expelled Jarvis and Bergman from the Party for trying first to capture and then destroy the Party, also criticized and got rid of the “center of gravity” formulation as part of clearing out the Jarvis-Bergman line and digging out the roots that nourished it.

This does not mean that the Party has decided to abandon the economic struggle of the workers, or that it no longer considers it very important. But it does mean that today the Party has a much deeper understanding of the correct relationship between the sometimes furious battle of defense around wages and working conditions which capitalism’s attacks constantly generate among the workers, and the working class’ overall goal of doing away with this state of affairs and eliminating exploitation, and eventually classes, altogether.

What is the significance of the economic battles to the final goal of working class struggle, proletarian revolution? How can these battles be built as part of a revolutionary workers’ movement, and not as a reformist end in themselves? And why must a communist party wage persistent struggle against economism, the tendency to elevate these battles above the revolutionary political tasks of the proletariat? These questions remain critical, not only for more thoroughly repudiating the influence of the Jarvis-Bergman clique but for insuring that the Party continues to fulfill its role as the vanguard of the working class in its revolutionary struggle.

Proletariat Fights to Initiate Larger Movement

In Wages, Price and Profit Marx insisted that if workers were to abandon their battles around wages and working conditions, then “they would be degraded to one level mass of broken wretches past salvation ... By cowardly giving way in their everyday conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify themselves for the initiating of any larger movement.”

But these battles are not ends in themselves. In the very next paragraph Marx also warned against exaggerating the importance of such battles and becoming “exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerilla fights incessantly springing up from the never-ending encroachments of capital...”

Thus while this struggle is necessary if the proletariat is to resist everyday attacks and still more to develop its fitness for revolutionary combat, such struggle is not itself revolutionary struggle. Moreover, unless the economic struggle is linked to building a consciously revolutionary movement–unless, as Marx puts it, it is waged not from the view of “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work” but under the banner of “abolition of the wages system”–then such struggle turns into its opposite, from a blow against the bourgeoisie to a treadmill for the proletariat.

Diverting the Spontaneous Movement

The pull on communists to become “exclusively absorbed” in the economic struggle is a powerful one indeed. History shows that parties must wage relentless struggle against that almost gravitational force if they are to avoid the quagmire of reformism. The ideological struggle against economism was waged most sharply by V.I. Lenin in the Marxist classic What Is To Be Done?. “Our task,” he wrote, “is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working class movement from this spontaneous, trade-unionist striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under the wing of revolutionary Social-Democracy [communism].” (emphasis Lenin’s)

As the PROGRAMME of the RCP, adopted at the Founding Congress, put it,

...in building its revolutionary struggle, the proletariat breaks the hold of trade unionist ideology–the bourgeois line that the limit of the workers’ movement must be the struggle for better wages and working conditions–better terms of the sale of the workers’ labor power, a slight loosening of the slave chain, only to have it tightened again. The struggle of the working class, within and outside the unions, must become the struggle to smash this chain, to abolish wage-slavery and the capitalist class that lives by it. (pp. 110-111)

The economists of Lenin’s time and now answered this by saying that, of course, they wanted revolution too–but being “realists” they understood that first the workers must pass through a stage of economic struggle before larger questions could be broached. “Political demands,” they said, “should.. .correspond to the experience gained by the given stratum of workers in the economic struggle…Political agitation [must] follow in the wake of” economic struggle.

Lenin fought the creation of such special stages as confining the movement to whatever its level was at the given time. This stagist view began by cautioning against ignoring the objective situation and by “championing the cause of the working class in close organic contact with the proletarian struggle.” It inevitably led to negating political agitation in the working class, degrading the level of the party to that of a trade union, and strengthening the grip of the bourgeois ideology on the working class.

The bottom line of economism, Lenin showed, is the bourgeois view that workers care only for “palpable results”–bread-and-butter issues, so to speak. The cardinal issues of society, according to this wretched outlook, are beyond the interest, let alone the grasp, of the proletariat.

Lenin made clear that by political struggle he meant struggle conducted in an all-round way against the capitalist system and its government. He specifically polemicized against the kind of economist line recently promoted by the Jarvis-Bergman gang that intentionally confused fights against the government for economic benefits (e.g., unemployment compensation) with real political struggle that aims at influencing affairs of state; and he vigorously denounced the substitution of economic reforms from the government for the historic goal of overthrowing the bourgeois state and establishing the proletarian state as the objective of the working class movement.

History has proven that Lenin was right–that, the proletariat must and will fight fundamentally not for the narrow and short-term interests of a few but to wipe out exploitation, carry through the struggle against all oppression and its source, remake society and emancipate all mankind from the shackles of capitalism and class society altogether. And this truth is beyond the grasp not of the workers, but of the economists and condescending saviors from Martynov of Lenin’s time down to lesser types like Jarvis and Bergman in the U.S. today.

Making Tremendous Progress

Although conditions in our country today are quite different from those in Russia when Lenin was just beginning his revolutionary activity and Marxists were just beginning to establish a deep influence in the working class, some important similarities apply. In 1896 Lenin wrote that the “transition of the workers to the steadfast struggle for their vital needs, the fight for concessions, for improved living conditions, wages and working hours, now begun all over Russia, means that Russian workers are making tremendous progress...” (“Draft and Explanation of a Programme for the Social Democratic Party,” Collected Works, Vol. 2, p. 114) Although Lenin was speaking of a young working class just coming into its full development whereas ours is a working class whose struggle is beginning to revive, his characterization has importance for the struggle today in the U.S.

Lenin went on to say, “that is why the attention of the Social-Democratic Party and all class-conscious workers should be concentrated mainly on this struggle.” But this is not applicable to our situation today. This is because the movement of the U.S. working class is not just now going over from machine-smashing to organized strikes and because trade unionism is far more developed and has a much stronger hold on the working class today.

U.S. imperialism finds itself at the beginning of a downward spiral after a generation during which there has been a relatively high standard of living for a large part of the working class and the lack of a genuine communist party.

The Second Party Congress, while repudiating the formulation of “center of gravity,” examined the above statement of Lenin in light of the conditions in the U.S. today. The Congress noted that in the past several years the U.S. workers in their strike struggles have been “making tremendous progress” in the sense that, while still fighting within the confines of trade unionism, they have increasingly broken through the bonds that the capitalists and their agents have placed on the trade union (economic) struggle.

Some examples of this are the miners’ struggle, the periodic flare-ups in auto characterized by wildcats and open struggle against the UAW International and its agents, the Farah strike several years back and the broad support movement around it, and so on. The growing phenomenon of the rank and file taking matters into their own hands and fighting it out blow for blow with the companies and the company men in union leadership is something different from the general character of shop struggles in the 1950s and early 1960s, which were much more easily controlled by the capitalists and their labor lieutenants and largely kept a part of “business as usual.”

Correctly understanding this situation and formulating Party policy accordingly was of course an important task of the Founding Congress. In this situation the economist “center of gravity of our Party’s work in the economic struggle” formulation gained more credibility. Now Jarvis takes credit for that formulation and he’s welcome to it. The Party is well rid of it as well as him. But it is important to understand why this formulation was accepted, what was right and wrong in what it reflected and how the struggle around it developed.

There has been a certain tendency among communists before the founding of the party to downplay the importance of–and still more the task of maximizing the revolutionary gains in–the economic struggle, in favor of more political struggles such as that against the police repression of oppressed minorities. This was a hangover from the period of Bundism, a deviation among communists which held that the Black and other national liberation struggles were the really important struggles and everything else had to be subordinated to that.

Such a petty bourgeois orientation failed to recognize the working class as the revolutionary class and neglected the importance of taking up the battles that the workers in their millions have already begun to wage. But both before and during the Founding Congress, the Jarvis-Bergman clique played upon and greatly exaggerated this tendency in order to push their own extremely rightist line. And they totally missed the fact that the main deviation in taking up political struggles in the previous period was that often the political line brought to them was not a Marxist-Leninist, proletarian line.

Economic and Political Struggle

According to the Jarvis-Bergman bunch, there is no difference between political and economic struggle. In fact, a close associate of Jarvis, a hatchet-woman whom he often used to run out a political line he was not quite ready to openly defend, became notorious for saying, “I wish I could burn What Is To Be Done?” exactly because in that book Lenin insisted on distinguishing economic and political struggle and emphasizing the need for the working class to take up the political struggle. Rather than oppose trade unionism, these people promoted it, and rather than seek to transform the conditions of the class struggle today, these people glorified them.

Leading up to the Founding Congress of the RCP this clique waged a coordinated offensive aimed at getting the Party PROGRAMME and the Party’s line in general to reflect their anti-Leninist (and anti-Marxist) orientation. Some of Jarvis’ junior officers wrote up a major criticism of the DRAFT PROGRAMME for the Party concerning the role of intermediate workers’ organizations and the significance of economic struggle. This polemic–entitled “Clarify the Role of the IWOs”–had as its main point the line that because “the fundamental contradiction, and now also the principal contradiction in America today is between the working class and bourgeoisie.. .struggle around shop issues is potentially revolutionary struggle.” It vehemently denied that there is any difference between a plant-based organization taking up the fight for a good contract and taking up a battle around broader political issues.

The Menshevik authors then tried to pervert Lenin’s statement from On Strikes that “from individual strikes the workers can and must go over... to a struggle of the entire working class for the emancipation of all who labor.” According to the Jarvis-Bergman gang, this “clearly link[s] the struggle against the individual employer, struggle around ’wages and benefits, working conditions, against speedup and layoffs, against discrimination’ to the struggle of ’the entire working class for the emancipation of labor.’” Here what they mean by “go over” is not that it is necessary to transform the workers movement into a politically conscious one, but, that, at some point the economic struggles themselves will quite literally and directly “go over” to a struggle for power.

What Lenin had written about economic and political struggle is no longer applicable today, these modern Mensheviks argued, because in the time Lenin was writing about, Russia was still ruled by a feudal Czar and not by the capitalists who owned the factories, whereas today factory struggles and broader battles are both directed against the capitalists. Although this does account for some differences in the tasks of the working class in the U.S. today (which doesn’t, for example, face the necessity to rally the peasantry against feudalism), this is not at ail why Lenin made the distinction between economic and political struggle.

Revisionism is often characterized by what it omits, and the Mensheviks omitted what Lenin always emphasized–that the “framework (of economic struggle] is too narrow” (from What Is To Be Done?, emphasis Lenin’s) to develop the class consciousness of the workers and that while, yes, there is a link between the economic struggle and class conscious struggle for revolution it is even more important to grasp the qualitative leap involved in this “going over.” As Lenin pointed out in On Strikes, there is quite a difference between “schools of war” (as he characterized the economic strikes) and “war itself.” But the modern Mensheviks glossed over this difference in quality to make it seem as if these struggles would by sheer increase somehow add up to a revolution.

Linked to this line on the economic struggle was the call put out by these Mensheviks at that Congress that Party cadre should “enter the national struggle” “as the force which leads the powerful struggle the workers are engaged in the plants.” This meant that the Party should not take part in this struggle openly in its own name, but only, or mainly, through mass workers’ organizations. It meant treating the struggle of the working class as it is today as though it were already merged with the struggle against national oppression, that is, as though the working class movement was right now a conscious movement against all oppression. But when you really got down to the bottom line, what it meant was trying to tie the struggle against national oppression to the same narrow, pragmatist outlook that took the form of economism in regard to the spontaneous workers’ struggles.

The Mensheviks defended this approach by saying, “What the masses want to know is not where their oppression comes from but how they can fight and win.” This line is gross right idealism, because it ignores the dialectical relationship between understanding and struggle–the fact that the masses must know where their oppression comes from in order to develop and build their struggle beyond its initial spontaneous forms. But even more blatantly rightist is its conception of “winning.” In the final analysis, winning either means getting rid of exploitation and oppression by getting rid of their source, the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system, or else it means nothing more than a few reforms. This Menshevik cry can’t help but bring to mind that notorious slogan of the original Mensheviks of Lenin’s day, “The movement is everything, the final aim nothing.”

The “shop struggle is potentially revolutionary” line put forward in the “Clarify” polemic was specifically and emphatically rejected and criticized by the Founding Congress. Despite Menshevik efforts, the PROGRAMME the Congress adopted was a correct programme, including a correct analysis of the connection between the day-to-day struggle and the revolutionary goal, the need to build organizations rooted in the plants whose overall role would be to take up the big issues in society, while also militantly fighting in the plant-by-plant and industrial battles, and so on.

The Mensheviks’ stubborn factionalism, including a lot of baton-waving behind the scenes by leading Mensheviks getting others to say what they dared not say themselves–fundamentally ended in failure. But because the ideological roots of this line were not thoroughly enough dug out, the economist wind which the Mensheviks whipped up had some effect.

Where these would-be bureaucrats did get over and do damage was the adoption of the line that the “center of gravity of the Party’s work” should be in the economic struggle at this time, by which was meant not only that the Party should pay attention and give importance to the economic struggle at this time because of the reasons described earlier, but also that the Party should concentrate its efforts on building the economic struggle today.

This was in direct contradiction with the formulation of the Party’s central task–“to build the struggle, class consciousness and revolutionary unity of the working class and develop its leadership of a broad united front against the U.S. imperialists, in the context of the world-wide united front against imperialism aimed at the rulers of the two superpowers. As this is developed, together with the development of a revolutionary situation, the question of mobilizing the masses for the armed insurrection will then come to the fore as the immediate question.” At the time of the Founding Congress, the Party did not grasp the economist essence of the “center of gravity” line. But this economism was to become clearer and clearer as Jarvis and Bergman used “the center of gravity” as a slogan to oppose the central task and to attempt to turn an incorrect current into a counterrevolutionary tide.

Menshevik Self-Exposure

Today, the Mensheviks are screaming that the “center of gravity” line never really thoroughly characterized the work of the Party, and of course they were right. In their introduction to their recent “theoretical” publication, affectionately known as TOILET PAPERS l by Party members, the Mensheviks complain that the revolutionary majority of the Party leadership agreed to the phrase “center of gravity,” but not its spirit. They rant and rave about how the Party leadership didn’t allow them to center their gravity in the economic struggles as thoroughly and in the real economist way which they would have liked. The publication upholds the “Clarify” line that “shop struggle is potentially revolutionary struggle, not only by explicitly upholding that polemic by name, but also by repeating its theses in slightly new words. Here we are told that, the RCP’s “problem” is “the failure in making a basic analysis of the particular stage in the struggle we are in”–in other words, that we failed to make a special stage of the economic struggle in this period. This is of course exactly the line the Mensheviks had proposed (economic struggle today, political struggle for the workers maybe some other day when they are “ready”)–and the line the Party had defeated.

As if this weren’t enough self-exposure by those who were only a little while ago claiming to uphold the line of the RCP–with “minor differences” of course– these Mensheviks go on to denounce the formulation “two-headed monster” adopted by the Party Founding Congress to describe the relationship between the capitalists and their henchmen in the unions. It’s now an “obstacle,” they say, to building the struggle.

Certainly such a formulation really is an obstacle–an obstacle in developing from an economist tendency to an all around out-and-out trade unionist line hellbent on winning friends and influencing people by patting these monsters on the head (Not to mention hellbent on sacrificing political principle to win a few cushy trade union jobs themselves). This kind of trade unionism–of finding some hack whose coattails can be ridden–is a special hallmark of L. Bergman.

Economism in Practice

Since the two leading Mensheviks did not come out openly and defend for themselves their full economist line at the time of the Founding Congress, the struggle around the Jarvis-Bergman bunch’s attempts to make a special slogan of this formulation continued for some time within the Party. The spontaneous pull of rightism in general and economism in particular in the current situation in this country also had its effect. But the advances made in founding the Party and linking communists with the struggle of the working class would have very quickly turned into their opposites if struggle against this economism and the political and ideological line behind it had not been waged from the start.

The Mensheviks demonstrated what they understood by “center of gravity” early on right after the Party’s formation. In New York-New Jersey, for instance, they led that area’s United Workers Organization to ignore the city crisis when it was at it sharpest in favor of an “anti-productivity campaign.” Since productivity drives are economic attacks that are generally fought shop to shop or within a single industry, taking this up as the pressing class-wide campaign is a crude example of “lending the economic struggle itself a political character”–a slogan used by the original economists of Lenin’s time to excuse their refusal to take up the burning political questions of the day in the working class. This line was criticized and reversed by the RCP leadership.

But simply trying to put this or that area of work back on the right track could not overcome the fundamental problem of ideological and political line from which economist errors sprung up one after another faster than weeds. The Mensheviks promoted a tendency in the Party to try to link all areas of the Party’s work to the fight at the “center of gravity.” For instance, in veterans work, Instead of linking the experience and struggle of vets, especially the experience of having had to fight in an imperialist war, with the capitalist system and proletarian revolution, there would be an attempt to show how the veterans’ fight was linked to that of the workers because both today face cutbacks (or “takeaways,” as the Mensheviks have taken to calling them).

This went hand in hand with a tendency to try to find an economic “center of gravity” for every struggle, which blossomed into the truly hideous line that the “center of gravity” of the Party’s work among students should be the struggle against cutbacks. In fact, with the exception of the speech by Comrade Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Party’s Central Committee, which stood out by its sweeping and revolutionary content, the founding convention of the Revolutionary Student Brigade as the communist student organization of the Party was so exclusively centered on cutbacks, with so little else mentioned and hardly a word about communism in general, that it seemed like a national cutback conclave. This was so obviously rightist and out of touch with reality that the main Mensheviks responsible for it had to do some hurried self-criticism. But of course they didn’t give up their basic line.

Mass Line Campaign

A few months after the Founding Congress of the Party a campaign was launched within the Party against these rightist deviations. It centered on the study of two articles written directly about the mass line, and a third, “The Day to Day Struggle and the Revolutionary Goal,” written by Comrade Avakian.

The first two articles explained that mass line means taking up the ideas of the masses in the light of Marxism and the long term interests of the masses, and in this way concentrating what is correct and returning it to the masses in the form of policies they can grasp as their own. This was in direct contradiction to the way Jarvis and Bergman were using the words” mass line” to mean that communists should mirror the masses and certainly never stir up controversy among them. The third article did exactly what its title said–it dealt with the day to day struggle in the context of how to reach the revolutionary goal, hitting at the idea that building the day to day struggle is the goal itself, or that doing so will bring about revolution.

This article stressed that we cannot build “a revolutionary movement, led by the working class, aimed at overthrowing and eliminating capitalism…if we try to show how every event in society relates to the ’center of gravity’ of the present workers’ struggle. We can only do it by showing, in a living way, how every event, every struggle, including those concentrated now in this present ’center of gravity,’ relate to what they all, in fact, do have in common: that every attack people are forced to fight, that every abuse and outrage, all oppression, is rooted in the capitalist system of exploiting the working class as wage slaves, >n the fundamental contradiction between socialized production and private ownership, which can only be resolved through socialist revolution, led by the working class and its Party.” For this reason the Party had to carry out “strictly Marxist propaganda and agitation.”

While not criticizing the “center of gravity” formulation, this was clearly a sharp polemic against the economist tendencies that had arisen–and had been promoted by Jarvis and Bergman–in connection with “the center of gravity.”

The article continued: “It is the case that today it is mainly in the fight around wages, working conditions, etc. that workers fight with a beginning, an elementary, and only elementary, sense of fighting together as workers.” And it went on, “It is extremely important to work to raise this embryonic sense of common bond as workers into more developed class consciousness through the course of all these basic day to day battles. But these struggles, and the work of communists in them–even if carried out in the most correct way–will never in and of themselves lead to the achievement of the revolutionary goal of overthrowing capitalism and establishing socialism, nor establish in the understanding of the workers involved in these struggles the need to build their fight toward this goal. It is only as they learn to take up every major question, every important battle against the enemy, and to take them up as part of their own class struggle against this enemy, with the aim of overthrowing it, that the workers raise their consciousness to class consciousness in the fullest sense and develop their movement into a revolutionary struggle.”

This call for “strictly Marxist propaganda and agitation” was part of a quote in the article taken from Lenin which said, “There is nothing more warranted than the urging of attention to the constant, imperative necessity of deepening and broadening, broadening and deepening, our influence on the masses, our strictly Marxist propaganda and agitation, our ever closer connection with the economic struggle of the working class, etc. Yet, because such urging is at all times warranted, under all conditions and in all situations, it must not be turned into special slogans, nor should it justify attempts to build upon it a special trend in Social-Democracy [Communism]. A borderline exists here; to exceed the bounds is to turn this indisputably legitimate urging into a narrowing of the aims and scope of the movement, into a doctrinaire blindness to the vital and cardinal political tasks of the moment.”

A “Special Slogan”

The 1976 Central Committee Report “Revolutionary Work in a Non-Revolutionary Situation” (now printed as a pamphlet) even more sharply summed up and specifically criticized this “making a special slogan out of the economic struggles, or making them an end in themselves, overestimating in fact what can be accomplished in these struggles, or negating the need to wage the political struggle.” (p. 67, 1976 CC REPORT)

It analyzed this as part of a rightist and pragmatist current in the Party: “By and large this idealism has been expressed in the openly rightist view that the ’Center of Gravity’ is everything, that it is enough to wage the economic struggle and to conduct this 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. In effect the ’Center of Gravity’ was substituted for the Central Task of the Party, and became in effect, the strategy of the Party. It is, according to this view, the day to day (economic) struggle that will build the consciousness and unity of the working class and other questions and battles in society are seen as diversions. .. ”(Ibid., p.5)

This CC Report went deeply into the question of stages in the class struggle, particular contradictions that in any given period condition its development and lay the basis for its transformation to a higher level. It emphasized that the importance of grasping how all things, including the class struggle, develop through stages is not to restrict the Party’s tasks to those which fit easily and in fact tail behind the general stage things are at today. The point is exactly the opposite–to grasp the development of stages in order to lead the working class movement beyond its current level toward its final goal or revolution and communism. This was in direct contradiction to the Menshevik line that because the working class movement today centers on economic struggle, any attempt to bring out the long-range revolutionary interests of the working class represents “left idealism.”(This obviously has a lot to do with the Menshevik’s idea of how to “fuse” communism with the working class movement, which will be the subject of a later article.)

In contrast to earlier Party documents, this Report insisted on distinguishing between economic and political struggle, criticized this “overestimating in fact what can be accomplished” (p. 67) in the economic struggle and gave the deepest importance to the task of taking up political struggle which “does tend, more than the economic, to raise the basic question of how the whole society is run and in whose interests.” (p.66)

It also emphasized that there are three forms of class struggle–including the theoretical as well as the economic and the political–and called attention to the necessity of the Party taking up all three.

The 1976 Central Committee meeting drew up a series of policies for the Party in line with this orientation, based on the need to conduct all its work in “a strictly Marxist way,” including agitation carried out in connection with economic struggle, while also carrying out more broad exposures. To this end it was decided to strengthen the WORKER newspapers, including doing more local political exposures, and to begin publishing them more often, as part of breaking with the line that considered agitation as only a call to action and failed to see that communists have to be “tribunes of the people,” exposing and opposing all the abuses spewed forth by the capitalist system and revealing the class relationships and the rule of the enemy behind all events in society. This line was further deepened in an internal bulletin on “The Worker and Our Party’s Tasks” (see article ”Sharpen Weapon of the Party’s Press,” REVOLUTION, June 1978).

These Mensheviks first opposed the adoption of this CC Report, then they “agreed” to it, while in reality they tried to distort and sabotage it. Now today they openly oppose it. The revolutionary understanding of the relationship between the economic struggle and revolution was what characterized the Party’s line overall. The Jarvis-Bergman bunch were being driven into more and more blatantly factional activity, frying to use the incorrect tendencies within the Party to take over the Party and turn it into a rightist monstrosity. It was inevitable that this struggle would come to a head.

The Second Party Congress, held after the Menshevik split in 1978, summed up not only the tendencies towards making a special slogan out of “center of gravity,” but also that that formulation itself represented a special slogan–a stagist, economist view basing the Party’s work on building the economic struggle and conducting agitation mainly in the course of that.

It criticized the line promoted by the Mensheviks that reduced the question of raising the consciousness of the proletariat simply to applying Marxism to each separate battle taken as a thing in itself, negating the importance of doing all-around political exposure of the capitalist system.

The Congress noted that the Party must take fully into account the present level of the workers struggle and the advances being made in the economic struggle and pay particular attention under today’s conditions to uniting with these fights and giving them revolutionary leadership. But the Congress also noted that the agitation the Party carries out cannot and must not be exclusively or even mainly centered on the economic struggle.

For the Party and the class conscious workers in this country, the fight against economism, against viewing the economic struggles themselves as potentially revolutionary and failing to see the need to divert the workers movement away from simply being a fight over the conditions of the sale of labor to a struggle against the system of wage slavery itself, remains a cardinal question.

In waging this struggle the Party is fighting the spontaneous pull of the capitalist system and the ideology and politics foisted on the workers by the bourgeoisie. This question is a rock upon which many once revolutionary parties have been sunk into the depths of revisionist betrayal, but it is an obstacle the Revolutionary Communist Party is determined to lead the workers overcoming.