Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

“Promote Revolutionary Struggles”

Party Speech At RCYB Convention

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First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 9, July 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

At the recent convention of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, Comrade William Klingel, a leading member of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, gave an important address on behalf of the Central Committee. His speech concentrated on the tasks of the RCYB in promoting revolutionary struggles in the period ahead. Comrade Klingel began his speech by reviewing the history of the two-line struggle in the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Revolutionary Union that was the core in forming the Party. The excerpts printed below follow from this point in the speech. Edited text.

* * *

These people [the Jarvis-Bergman clique] never really united with the earlier struggles led by the Revolutionary Union and the consistent revolutionary” line that was a part of it. How could they? These people hold the current U.S. national record for narrowness and they’re striving to achieve advanced world levels. Lenin summed up their position quite veil, “gazing with awe on the posterior of the proletariat.” [laughter]

And what’s the heart of the difference with them? Why do we say that their line is a counterrevolutionary line, whereas ours is a revolutionary line? They’re not just moving slowly forward in their squatted down position, they’re moving to counterrevolution. Their line of tailing behind the events of the day, of dismissing questions of principle as idealism, leads to serving up the masses to be smashed. And particularly that will be true with the outbreak of an imperialist war, when the war propaganda gets pitched up, when maybe there’s some temporary increase in the economic and political strength of the bourgeoisie, perhaps a little economic pick-up–there’ll be people like Jarvis around, even if Jarvis himself has choked on his Twinkies and died, [laughter] and they will jump to defend the U.S. bourgeoisie in a minute, and all in the name of the masses.

... There is a very basic question that came up among ourselves. What is our struggle for anyway? Is it really a struggle to move society and history to a whole new stage, to eliminate the oppression and exploitation of man by man? Or is it just an opportunity for some new would-be big shots and exploiters to run things, and maybe get a little revenge on the old guys who they replace? The first was the sweeping revolutionary world view and the fighting stand of Mao Tsetung. The second was and is the revisionist world view. Our Mensheviks hated Mao’s sweeping view. What a frightening thought, what if socialism isn’t really your chance to get over, if it isn’t your chance to settle down and feather your nest, and instead there is a never-ending struggle, even after communism, “to keep on moving forward, to keep on transforming the world and yourself in the process? Then they didn’t want a damn thing to do with it if that’s what it was. Just for the masses of people, this view and this view alone corresponds to their real interests and their real needs...

Now through all this, this history, through every struggle runs a common thread, a common theme, a theme the Mensheviks cussed and cursed, and one that we have to cherish as a gain of the struggle. That gain is an ever deepening grasp on the sweeping revolutionary view of society and our tasks, which the science of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought brings out. This view-point exactly raises our sights, and not to Cloud 9 like the Mensheviks would say, but as Mao Tsetung put it, it is like a telescope and a microscope that enables us to see beyond the immediate and apparent features of what’s happening right before our eyes. Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought gives us a sweeping view that enables us to see the main, the forward-running stream of history. But–and here’s the more important point, so that we don’t sit up in the clouds–seeing this mainstream we’re able to see how every little current of struggle, no matter how twisted it is by meanderings or counter-currents, can be brought forward by the work of revolutionaries to contribute to building that mainstream of revolution.

It’s like Lenin said, and he said it powerfully, “Communism springs from positively every sphere of public life.” Without this sweeping view, when we’re in the midst of daily happenings and struggles we can’t see the pattern. But armed with it, it is as if we have climbed a mountain top and yet not lost contact with what lies below and leads up to it. This view, this weapon, enables us to be in the thick of mass struggle, and at the same time see the larger picture that any struggle is a part of. This is why Marxism is in fact like a magic weapon. But it is not any witches’ concoction at all, it’s a science based on the objective laws of nature and society. And it’s not a weapon to be admired or stroked, it’s a weapon to be fired.

By grasping this sweeping view, we’re not driven to dwell in the clouds. In fact we’re more inspired than ever, and have more clarity than ever, to go out into the thick of the mass struggles. Not just as bringers of truth and light, but as active revolutionaries, fighters against the bourgeoisie, agitating, exposing, and leading the masses in the fight.

We can see more our real role, which is not just as some sort of passive truth bearers, although we do have truths of Marxism-Leninism to bring to the struggle and we should bring them, but more it’s like seeds, or (if you’re into chemistry) catalysts, which make various broad and diverse elements come together in forward revolutionary motion. That’s the real role of communists, and something we should be able to see, if we get this sweeping view.

All this speaks very directly to the tasks facing the RCYB today, at this meeting and beyond. Victories have been won, but no one can rest content with their laurels. That’s very dangerous. Laurels were rewards they gave heroes in ancient times, wreaths they wore in their hair. But laurels can get heavy, they can become a burden. These victories, this line, can and must be made into a real material force among the masses, so as to “transform the world through class struggle,” as our Party’s Programme says.

This means carrying out all three tasks that Comrade Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Central Committee of our Party, laid out at the founding convention of the RCYB: leading the struggles of youth, uniting youth with broad sections of the American people and fighting at the side of the working class against the imperialist system, and struggling widely and openly in the realm of ideas with people, propagating communism. And I also should say, and I know Comrade Avakian agrees with me, that these refer to three external tasks that the Brigade has to take up. There’s also the internal task of building up the Brigade, in both numbers and in revolutionary understanding, and finding the ways to do that in a way that’s lively and broad and, like we talked about, in a way that learns from the Panthers and Young Lords with their mass study of Marxism-Leninism, bringing it out in a way that the masses of youth can grasp.

Promote Revolutionary Struggles

But of all these tasks, the main thing for the RCYB overall is going out broadly and deeply among the masses of youth and promoting revolutionary struggles, mass struggles that attack and expose the system. And this is especially important given the situation in the United States and the world today, which as we have said is not a revolutionary situation. Nor is it a situation where things are going in a straight line down. But, more importantly, our understanding is that in fact things are leading to the potential for great upsurges in a revolutionary direction. In fact, that’s not just some distant dream, that’s not just something we know about because “it’s inevitable” in some general sense. We can see the shape of things to come in a lot of the things that are going on today before our very eyes. Hell, we saw it in Houston in Moody Park. How about Humboldt Park a year ago? How about the miners?

At the same time the thing was going down in Houston, out near Los Angeles–I read in THE WORKER for the L.A. area–there was a rebellion on Cinco de Mayo in Ontario, California. A few days later some youth called the police for “assistance” and when the cops arrived they got a little dose of something from the top of a building–rocks and bottles. The cops said, “They just don’t seem to like us around here.” [Applause]

So we can see the shape of things to come, and that this is going to be a period not of straight ahead stuff but of growing big storms, and we should grasp this clearly and base our actions on it.

Now what do we mean in promoting revolutionary struggles? Well I suggest you ask the Houston pig department about that, [applause] Since we’re here in Texas, and even if we weren’t we would say it, the comrades in Houston have been doing an excellent job in going deep and broad among the masses, in doggedly pursuing and persisting in agitation, in exposing the bourgeoisie, in exposing and fighting the pigs, and in combatting all sorts of agents of the bourgeoisie, in exposing them concretely in the course of struggle and delivering bold and revolutionary blows to the bourgeoisie in Houston. This is what we mean by promoting revolutionary struggles. And this didn’t happen in just one flare-up. This has been the result of some work over a long period of time, revolutionary work.

All this is a far cry from what the Mensheviks used to call, laughingly enough, “waging big battles,” and in this connection let’s be clear that the banner of waging big battles does not belong to these Mensheviks. True they used this phrase to wipe out a most important point, that communists aren’t just mindless fight-fight-fighters, but do work on all fronts to build for revolution. But their, idea of big battles was also governed by their same point of view and it was reformist. Their idea of a big battle was the demo they planned, the buses they rented, and the stage play gimmicks they carried out...

The Mensheviks said they couldn’t take up the struggle at Kent State because of the Wall Street “jobs for youth” action. The Kent State struggle, this tremendously important political struggle which concentrated many of the abuses of the imperialist system, was only taken up by these great heroes of big battles when they were forced to by the Party. And even then they constantly backed off, they even developed a strategy for giving up on this struggle–“throwing a punch [so called] while backing away.” That was what they called it. And now, this year, when they took it up but under different conditions, free from the revolutionary line of the Revolutionary Communist Party, their big idea for uniting with the masses and building the battle was raising the slogan “Eight Years Is Long Enough, Ken State Administration Admit the Injustice.”

Promoting revolutionary struggles–mass struggles that attack and expose the system–is the farthest thing in the world from these peoples’ line...

Correct Line Brings Soldiers

Now the last point I want to make on the correct understanding of waging big battles relates to this question of numbers. As we have said and should continue to say, numbers aren’t everything. But Mao also said that the correct line brings soldiers. And while there may be today larger rightist-led demonstrations than the RCYB or the Party is going to lead, we must never concede to the idea that the revolutionary line will mobilize fewer people, we must never concede to that....

We must promote revolutionary struggles as our main task even though it’s not our only task. What does that mean? Does that mean that there’s an admission ticket to revolutionary struggles, that you have to be a revolutionary to join a revolutionary struggle? That would be a great mistake. People are going to be involved in these struggles for a lot of different reasons. Anybody can think back in their own personal history, about how they got involved in the revolutionary movement. I know when I did I was full of all kinds of crazy ideas, all kinds of idealism, a little adventurism, and a few other things.

But I came into the struggle and I got my head turned around not only by readings from the Communist Manifesto, but more importantly, by the experience in the mass struggles and by the leadership that revolutionary communists gave to that struggle at that time. So it would be a great mistake when we’re promoting revolutionary struggles to demand that people submit admission tickets saying “I’m a revolutionary” to be involved.

And do we mean by promoting revolutionary struggles that every leaflet that the RCYB puts out has to call for revolution? No, we don’t mean that, although a lot of them should. The key question is motion forward, ever more consciously pushing forward the struggle against the enemy. This definitely includes propaganda about revolution and communism, but that isn’t the main thing. The main thing is constantly exposing the enemy, mobilizing the masses, identifying real friends and real enemies in the course of struggle. Lenin said something pretty powerful about this idea that I want to read.

“To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc–to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, ’We are for socialism,’ and another, somewhere else and says, ’We are for imperialism,’ and that will be a social revolution!

“Whoever expects a ’pure’ social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is. (Collected Works, Vo. 22, “The Discussion of Self-Determination Summed Up,” p.355-56)

I think there’s a lot to learn from that. Of course it would be giving the Mensheviks far too much credit to say that this version of two armies–“we’re for socialism” and “we’re for imperialism”–was their vision of the two armies. They had a two army vision all right, one banner goes up and says, “I’m for the center of gravity” and the other one says, “I’m for cutbacks and takeaways.” [laughter] But we must have a much broader political view. We have to widen our revolutionary vision to see the coming storms of mass struggle and our potential broad-reaching role in them. We should check out too what the RCP Programme says about this and how it ties into the united front strategy for proletarian revolution, the strategy which we upheld in opposition to the Mensheviks and which we must continue to uphold today and learn to apply better. I want to read that too.

“Millions of people have become involved in these struggles, entering them for different reasons, with conflicting class viewpoints, and with varying degrees of understanding of the source of the problems land the links between the struggles. Millions more will continue to do so.”!(p.98)

... We have to grasp our own crucial role in this struggle, the role of communists. It is fundamentally a political role, no matter what these puffed up so-called genius organizers say–and they are overrated organizers to say the least. When Lenin said that communism springs from positively every sphere of public life like I talked about earlier, he didn’t mean consciously, spontaneously communism would emerge. You don’t go around to a struggle around schools, for example, and find communism erupting–Oh there it is, communism–or even twenty communists, just on their own. [laughter] He meant just the opposite. He meant these struggles emerge from the conditions and contradictions of capitalist society, which can only be resolved by socialist revolution and ultimately communism.

This system with its vicious oppression breeds constant struggle on many fronts. The people who fight in these struggles are not spontaneously conscious of the source of their misery and especially not of the need to overthrow it. It is this contradiction–between the fact that these struggles arise out of the contradictions of capitalism which can only be resolved through the overthrow and elimination of capitalism, and on the other hand, the fact that people who are drawn into these struggles and actively take them up are not conscious of that goal–it’s this contradiction that we have to resolve in our revolutionary work.

So that means two things. On the one hand we have to broadly unite with people in key struggles as they erupt and move each struggle forward. And on the other, we have to make the struggling masses conscious of the goal of their struggle. The more clearly we see the big picture, the revolutionary goal of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, the more clearly emerges the tremendous urgency of broad-ranging revolutionary work right now and the possibility of doing it. Through this struggle we are in a better position than ever before to seize the time. So comrades: Our vision is clear; We’ve sharpened our arrow; It will definitely draw blood; Let’s fire on the target!