Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Calls for Unity with RCP

Former Member Denounces WVO


First Published: Revolution, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The following article was submitted to us by a former member of the Workers Viewpoint Organization who recently quit on the basis of struggling against WVO’s opportunism.

In the latest twist to WVO’s idealist flip from “left” dogmatism to reformism, they have hit the bottom of the kool-aid barrel. In an article titled, “People’s Temple–Why?” they say “Jim Jones himself stands out as a victim.. . Jones himself was part Cherokee, and no doubt differed from the groups that are real cults that are anti-communist, racist, discriminating; he understood the need to fight national oppression and had stood for multinational unity very early on.” (Workers Viewpoint, December 1978, p. 7.). And about the 900 people who were murdered by this representative of the bourgeoisie, they say, “It’s a wrong thing to do but still done with a lot of guts in condemning a lot of gutless people in a gutless society, with most people nowadays living without any principles except to keep themselves alive and comfortable.” (p. 27.)

So the People’s Temple deaths were gutsy! Jim Jones: the victim of national and capitalist oppression!

Where in the hell does this supposed “communist” analysis come from!? To find the answer we need to look into a little history of this sect, the Workers Viewpoint Organization.

The organization became early on one of the members of the so-called Revolutionary Wing, a group of wooden idealists who opposed the formation of the RCP over the question of the role of theory. “They attacked the RCP as pragmatists, claiming that it was incorrect and opportunist to form a Party on the basis of applying the theory of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought to the practice of building the struggle of the working class and other sections of masses and from the knowledge gained in this practice formulating a programme for revolution in the U.S.” (From The Communist, Vol. I, #2, May 1977, p. 89, “WVO’s Opportunism in Theory and Practice.”)

At that time, the WVO said that genuine communists had accumulated enough practice in the struggles of the 60s and early 70s, and that this practice could be taken into study commissions and polemical forums to hammer out the “correct line.” They criticized RCP’s formulation as “practice, practice, practice.” The only trouble with their “logical” little mechanical formulation is that you can never separate theory from practice, and that theory flows from practice. In fact, the RCP correctly saw the need to develop a correct political line in the thick of struggle, in the process of “building the struggle, class consciousness, and revolutionary unity of the working class and developing its leadership of a broad united front against the U.S. imperialists, in the context of the worldwide united front against imperialism, aimed at the rulers of the two superpowers.” (RCP Programme, p. 102.)

Once the WVO’s perfect little version of the “correct line” was hammered out in these forums, commissions, etc.–then came the hard part. Then they had to take these wonderful ideas and present them to the working class and oppressed nationalities. They called it a period of “biting into the immediate struggles.” You know, like Chairman Mao said, “In order to taste the pear, you have to bite into it”? Get it? This is their idea of combining theory and practice!

That’s when the flip to reformism and ultra-rightism began to happen. Because when “perfect ideas” come in contact with reality, they have to be changed to “something the masses can grasp,” so that it will appear, at least, to get over. Otherwise, they’d get very tired of talking dogma to themselves. Now they’re talking reformism to the “masses.” They used to have a perfect little theory about the “dual tactics of the bourgeoisie”–that the tactics of “reform and repression” were merely two sides of the same coin of bourgeois democracy. But because their version of exposing bourgeois democracy was so wooden, when they came up against the real illusions of bourgeois democracy that are deep in the working class; then it became too hard to explain.

Today, the WVO was to be seen out at the voting booths in the STOP RIZZO! campaign in Philly. Were they out there exposing illusions of bourgeois democracy? Were they out there showing that Rizzo is only a tool of capitalism, and that the battle ground is far bigger than Stop Rizzo!? And that the Stop Rizzo campaign was in fact a diversion, a scapegoat to turn the masses’ potential revolutionary sentiments down the well-travelled rut of bourgeois elections? NO, THEY WERE OUT THERE SIGNING PEOPLE UP TO VOTE! (This from their November paper): “But this time we can make use of the vote tactically (their emphasis) as a way to organize ourselves and get a fighting chance to get rid of the racist-dog mayor. Our success will be judged not as much by the election as by how well we use the Charier change campaign to help build the mass resistance of the working class and national minority people, and by how well we educate our people to continue the fight against capitalist oppression past November 7!” In other words, once “our people” get a few victories under their belt, then WVO can “educate” them to tackle the heavier problems of revolution.

What this boils down to is complete disdain for the masses–that they can’t really “grasp” revolution. This is classical economism, that says the “vanguard” has to take the poor stupids through stages, step by step of “fighting chances” before they can grasp their revolutionary potential to turn the world upside down, “past November 7th!”

In the philosophical realm, WVO doesn’t understand the process of quantitative changes, making the “leap” to qualitative changes in a person’s understanding. They think that a certain number of “fighting chances” will one day add up to revolutionary understanding. Rather than seeing that consistent Marxist analysis–propaganda and agitation in the thick of struggle–are the quantitative kernels that, as a revolutionary situation develops, will lead to qualitative leaps in the masses’ consciousness. That is the power of the subjective factor that WVO doesn’t understand. That is what Marx meant when he said: theory becomes a material force when it grips the masses.

WVO’s line on China is a most blatant example of this rightism, too. They will not come out publicly and denounce the revisionist leadership and uphold the four comrades, the “Gang of Four.” Publicly, they uphold China as “still a socialist country.” And that’s it. But even more sinister is the fact that to particular lucky individuals classified by them as “advanced and active,” they will say that Hua and Teng are revisionists, they do think there was a coup d’etat, the Four were correct, even that Chou En-lai was the revisionists’ back-up man. Why is this? Because, at this time, the “advanced” are the only ones who can grasp this “demoralizing” situation without falling into cynicism and losing faith in the possibility of socialism working. Public exposure of revisionism, they say, will only fuel the bourgeoisie’s propaganda, attacking the viability of socialism.

The logic of this quickly falls between your fingers like so much sand (more like quicksand). Because bourgeois propaganda is using the situation in China to tell us that socialism will never work, it must turn back to “pragmatism, down-to-earth capitalism,” then our duty as communists is to cut through that with the knife of scientific analysis. Which is exactly what the RCP has done, spreading the truth of the class struggle under socialism, how setbacks happen, how to arm ourselves against them, how to fight even harder for genuine Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, and against revisionism, the “easy road,” pragmatism, etc. WVO would have the masses in the U.S. think that China is socialist (ignorance is bliss?). According to WVO, the masses won’t be able to figure it out unless WVO tells them, so they’re going to keep it under their hats for the right moment.

This shocking depth of disdain for the masses brings us back to the People’s Temple and WVO’s characterization of Jim Jones. Actually, Jones’ disdain and manipulation of the People’s Temple members and WVO’s disdain for the working class and oppressed nationalities are very similar. The RCP’s analysis of WVO in 1977 summed up, “The Religious Disorder of the Worker’s Viewpoint Organization.” And that’s exactly what it is. About Jones, WVO says, “Jones’ brand of mysticism was misleading but not nearly as sinister as the Moonies or other crazy religions. These sects preach and openly support racism and fascism. For all its reformist practices, (my emphasis) the People’s Temple at least fights racists and fascists and attracts the support of the black and poor people. Many join because they see the group doing progressive things.” (Workers Viewpoint, December 1978, p. 7.)

About the WVO, you could say the same thing: “For all its reformist practices, at least they’re communists and they’re fighting capitalism, and they attract the support of oppressed nationalities and students.” BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHY THESE “CULTS,” RELIGIOUS AND REVISIONIST ALIKE, ARE SO SICKENING AND SINISTER. They do attract, for a time, honest people who want to fight the system–then they lead them down a dead end street.

WVO’s following is not going to commit suicide, but the organization is swallowing its own dogmatic poison, more and more quickly in their flip to the right. The honest forces within, and there are many, if they really desire to struggle all their lives for living socialism and the final aim of communism, if they really strive to be ruthlessly scientific to fight the bourgeoisie, will gradually be won to the genuine party of the U.S. working class–the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.