RCYB Consolidates On Correct Line
Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Arrogant Clique Suffers Defeat

RCYB Consolidates On Correct Line

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 5, February 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Braving severe winter blizzard conditions, nearly 100 youth and students traveled long distances to attend a crucial meeting of the recently formed Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB) held in Cincinnati on January 21. The delegates were sent as representatives by a large majority of the RCYB’s chapters from all areas of the country–from Boston and New York to California and Hawaii, and everything in between. Although it had only been two short months since the RCYB’s founding convention, this Cincinnati conference was critical in determining whether the Brigade would continue under the basic principles unanimously adopted at the convention or whether they would be reversed by a small but arrogant faction. It was the unity and understanding achieved at that convention that forged the RCYB as a vital force in organizing youth to fight shoulder to shoulder alongside the working class for proletarian revolution.

But this was not achieved without struggle–not only mass struggle, but also struggle within the RCP between two sharply opposed lines. This struggle focused on the name of this youth organization, with a number of leading comrades in youth and student work, together with some others, opposing the Party’s line of having the word “communist” in the name of the organization. Their opposition to the name “communist” reflected a right-wing, contemptuous view of the masses of youth, as well as the working class in general–an outlook which permeates a paper they wrote and submitted as an appeal to the Party leadership prior to the convention. (This paper, together with the reply by the leadership, has been published as a pamphlet for all to examine.)

As has now become clear, these people had been organized for some time as part of a revisionist headquarters within the RCP which engaged in factional opposition to the central leadership of the Party not only on the question of the communist youth organization, but many other questions as well. The line put forward by this clique of careerists (which included members of the former National Office [NO] of the Revolutionary Student Brigade) would have led this newly formed youth organization down the swampy low road of reformism and revisionism–eventually to become an obstacle in the path of the workers struggle rather than a weapon in its hand in the fight against the bourgeoisie.

“Too Much Anti-Communism”?

These revisionists claimed that working class youth in particular would be “turned off” by the name “communist,” and in essence (and in practice) they felt that the working class youth could not and would not grasp communism in this period. Their rationalization for this rotten stand was that “for the past 20-30 years the bourgeoisie has been beating the s– out of socialism and communism,” and there’s too much anti-communism among youth and in society overall.

While paying lip-service to the concept of a communist youth organization, they put forward a totally different formulation–an “advanced mass organization.” The main basis on which people would become members of this organization would be their desire to fight against the attacks coming down on youth. This denies in effect that there is a qualitative leap involved between the problems and outlook of the masses of youth and of a communist youth group. It forgets that the main reason the RCYB is involved in battles is not because of the particular problems of youth, but to help make proletarian revolution. They went so far as to say that a good chapter would have as many as 30% of its members being people who didn’t consider themselves communist or aspiring to communism!

This line was defeated within the Party prior to the RCYB founding convention, and on that basis, the RCYB was founded November 22-23 on a fundamentally sound political and ideological line. There was lively discussion describing the miserable conditions youth face under capitalism–the high unemployment, dead-end jobs with lousy wages, as well as discrimination, terrible schools and widespread drug abuse. And beyond all this, youth tend to question the injustices of society, the whole set-up and what it holds for them. In response to all this, many youth rebel and boldly fight back-end any youth organization must join and lead these growing struggles. But the delegates to the convention saw that this was not enough, because merely fighting for partial “solutions” or a few piecemeal reforms never has and never will end these conditions.

Only a total overthrow of the existing system–a revolution– can solve this, not a vague “youth revolution” or a drug-filled “youth culture” or reformism.

There was sharp discussion at the convention on the question of whether being openly known as communists would “get in the way” of building mass struggle and deepening, the Brigade’s ties among the masses. The entire convention firmly united that while being known as communists from the start would not be as “easy,” as opposed to being known only as fighters, or even “revolutionaries,” that even in the short run, by practicing the mass line, the RCYB could build and lead mass struggles and move forward the overall movement far better. After lengthy discussion the November RCYB convention unanimously voted to openly proclaim the communist nature of the RCYB, determining that in ail the fights it waged it would consciously aim to build them as part of the overall struggle for revolution.

As such an organization, it is dedicated to carrying out the three tasks with regard to the masses of youth as laid out by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the RCP, in his speech at the convention:

1) Lead the masses of youth in struggling against the attacks and abuses they face;
2) Mobilize the masses of youth to fight at the side of the working class under the leadership of its Party in the overall struggle against the imperialists and for revolution;
3) Broadly and boldly propagate communism among the masses, and especially youth, bringing out that the only solution for youth is fighting shoulder to shoulder alongside with workers to overthrow the capitalists and to replace their decadent rule with socialism, the rule of the working class, where the laboring millions struggle together to transform all of society and bring about communism–the final elimination of all classes and forms of class rule!

Two-Faced Opportunism

At the convention, the RCYB elected its leadership on the basis that they would implement the line and principles that had been adopted. This included a number of these factionalists–who like all opportunists say one thing openly, and do another behind your back. After the convention they stepped up their two-faced opportunism and betrayed the trust of Brigade members by continuing to uphold their defeated line and consciously undermined the principles of the RCYB. Using the RCYB’s temporary national office as a headquarters, they factionalized against the correct line of the RCYB and the Party, and in early January they issued a document that essentially called for Brigade members to split away from and attack the RCP and the working class. This they did in collaboration with a group of people who were trying to wreck the RCP from within and use the RCYB as a pawn in their game.

Cincinnati Conference

It was in this context that the Cincinnati conference was held. It was called under the authority of the RCP Central Committee and leading members of the RCYB, and was a severe blow to this arrogant clique’s plans. Despite the short notice, over two-thirds of the chapters were represented, including the entire RCYB in the West and South, a solid majority in the Midwest, and about one-fourth of the chapters in the East. (The RCYB in the East is relatively small, but it is a solid, daring, determined and communist RCYB!) This good turnout came despite the fact that the RCYB had been one of the strongholds of the revisionist faction in the RCP, and they had been able to gain more influence there than in the Party as a whole.

Those attending the conference unanimously denounced this small group’s plans to seize control of their organization. Many of the youth and students attending the conference rose to criticize the factionalists – not just them as individuals, but their line – and gave many examples of how these swollen-headed “leaders” from the former NO had sabotaged student and youth work in the past.

They pointed out that this had not always been the case–some of these people had in fact made contributions to the development of work among students in the past. But what had been a secondary aspect in these people–errors in line and growing tendencies reflecting bourgeois ideology–had taken a qualitative leap and consolidated into full-blown revisionist opportunism. Now these formerly leading people had degenerated. Out of this lively discussion emerged a graphic picture of the worst type of Menshevik careerism.

The leading hacks from this clique acted as if the RCYB was their little kingdom, and wanted to use the many successes achieved through the hard work of the Brigade’s membership and the overall leadership of the RCP as their own “capital”–claiming credit for the “flashy” successes and spreading rumors and innuendos blaming “the stupid rank-and-file members” and “the Party leadership’s left dogmatic line” for any setbacks. The traitorous “national officers,” bent on building up their own individual reputations as “mass leaders,” wherever they could began substituting this “flashiness” for politics, determining what actions or campaigns to take up on the basis of “How will it spin?” (meaning, will it guarantee quick and easy results?) rather than how it would help advance the cause of proletarian revolution.

A good example was the righteous struggle to stop the gym at Kent State last summer and fall. Initially the leader of this clique in the Party’s youth and student work was opposed to the Brigade launching a major effort around this deeply significant and developing issue, claiming they were “too busy” building for a youth demonstration on Wall Street later that summer (this was his pet project at the time). He and others in the clique backed this up by saying that working class youth weren’t interested in Kent State anyway, and that students on campus wouldn’t move either–they were too young when the killings occurred to be concerned. Only after sharp struggle on the part of RCP leadership was this taken up as a campaign outside of the Brigade in Ohio (a point which these opportunists conveniently fail to remember when they claim credit for the big successes) and even then they wavered at every critical point. First they said the struggle was for “elite” campuses. Then, as they were building for the first big demonstration of the fall semester, they characterized it as “throwing a punch while backing away,” exposing the fact that they never intended to build it as part of a militant and protracted fight. They had planned to end the Kent struggle after pulling off a large mass demonstration. They claimed, “We’ll never win anything more now, let’s end the struggle here–any future demonstrations would have less people.”

Once again the central Party leadership was forced to struggle against their line, which included much more capitulation than this, and on the basis of this struggle the militant confrontation of October 22 was organized, which saw 1500 people militantly stand up to tear gas-wielding pigs, shattering the ruling class’ claims that “student unrest is dead.”

Consistently they downplayed or opposed the study of the science of revolution within the Brigade, in order to keep people ignorant of the correct way to wage revolutionary struggle. They criticized members who wanted to organize study groups as “dogmatists,” and accused people who read Marxism as “burying their heads in the books.” A leading member of their faction liked to say, “Have faith that you know some Marxism, in your ability to analyze things,” which in essence called for people to substitute bourgeois “common sense” for Marxist theory and promoted narrow empiricism (taking one’s own narrow experience as general truth). When over the past year the central leadership of the RCP struggled with members of the RSB NO to develop more study in the Brigade, only a half-hearted attempt was made–for instance, an area-wide study session was held in the Midwest, but it turned out to be merely a rambling lecture by one of their so-called “leader-theoreticians,” with very little discussion.

Over the past year, the factional activities of these so-called leaders of the RSB took the form of sabotage of the Brigade’s work. They published only a few, irregular issues of the newspaper Fight Back–a task the Brigade and Party had summed up as extremely important–claiming they were “too busy with other things.”

The few issues of Fight Back that did emerge increasingly reflected their revisionist line. It downplayed the importance of propagating theory among the masses of students and didn’t even address many of the political questions facing the students, let alone much on the broader events and questions involving the working class and the rest of society. Even in its summation of different struggles, it paid little attention to line, substituting instead pages of mere descriptions of “what happened.” In short, it was as politically “meaty” as pablum–it was not a communist newspaper, and it couldn’t aid the (then) RSB membership in being “tribunes of the people” and doing ideological work among the masses of students.

One chapter revealed it had even sent in a finished draft of a much-needed pamphlet (on the Bakke case) accompanied by all the necessary money for its publication, but nothing was done! (No one knows where they squandered this money.) On the other hand, this “National Office” was never “too busy” to travel from chapter to chapter acting as honchos. Claiming that a number of RSB chapters in the Midwest were “incapable of doing good work” without their “direct leadership,” they parcelled out these chapters to various members of the NO, almost as if they were their personal property, and effectively tried to stifle the initiative of the membership.

They didn’t want an organization fighting for working class revolution–what they really wanted was an organization they could control from the top while the rank and file membership just blindly carried out their orders. In many ways, they acted just like some of the union hacks that control workers’ unions-self-serving and arrogant, ready to crush all members who opposed their dictates. One delegate from the Northwest at the Cincinnati conference recounted how, when she opposed a particularly raunchy line emanating from the NO, she was told, “We can make revolution without your area of the country–in fact, why don’t you move to someplace that’s important, like Chicago or New York”! They told the Hawaii chapters of the Brigade (which had raised the money for the trip), “You won’t get the speaking tour [to build for the founding convention] because you’re not bringing enough people.” But they, unlike the NO, were building the RCYB!

Contemptuous Toward Youth

Concerning work among youth, this faction exhibited the worst form of opportunist behavior, picturing themselves as “condescending saviors.” They felt that working class youth couldn’t understand Marxism. Reflecting the same view toward the oppressed nationalities, they acted as though the reason to take up campaigns around national oppression was because “that would bring Black people around.” With this view they carried out the line that the best way to organize youth was through a few flashy demonstrations, plus “getting down” and partying, while hiding the politics of the organization. One Brigade member brought this out sharply by pointing to an example where one of these so-called “mass leaders” had brought a number of youth to a conference to build towards the RCYB convention without explaining to them that it was communist. Needless to say, these youth felt tricked – in much the same way the bourgeoisie has always slandered communists as “duping people” – and left the conference enraged!

Under the guise of “getting down” and “immersing themselves in the life of the masses,” they pushed liberalism and refused to struggle against some of the backward tendencies that are inevitably found among youth growing up in bourgeois society. Male chauvinism was tacitly condoned, with women who brought up criticisms of this behavior being slandered as “feminists.”

Some of these degenerates even encouraged dope smoking and promiscuity as ways to “get down”– making a mockery of the concept of proletarian morality and revealing even more graphically the low view they held of the masses of youth. This view came out as well in their line that calling the youth organization “communist” might be “o.k.” among students, but would be ruinous among working class youth.

This same view came out once again in the content and character of the Young Red newspaper which was aimed at working class youth which also appeared about as regularly as the Do Do bird. If Fight Back was pablum, the Young Red was watery pablum plus boogie.

Even their view that there must be two newspapers (if newspapers are really necessary at all)–one for students and a separate one for working class youth–is revealing of their line. While some separate forms of agitation must be developed, their line reflected their negation of the communist bond that provides the only revolutionary basis for uniting students and working class youth in one organization with one purpose.

Situation Excellent

Even though some of these degenerate anti-Party elements held leading positions in the RSB and RCYB, their rotten line and behavior did not characterize the overall work of the organization. Great advances have been made in work among students and youth, due to the correct line of the RCP which– in spite of the interference from these opportunist “leaders”–has been implemented and deepened by the dedicated revolutionaries in the neighborhoods and on the campuses. The January Cincinnati conference was an inspiring testimonial to this fact, and was a severe blow to the clique’s puffed-up plans. Not only did it represent the large majority of the RCYB’s membership, but it clearly released the initiative and strengthened the determination of RCYB members to carry out the revolutionary line and tasks they had united around at the founding convention.

The conference unanimously denounced the attempts to seize control of their organization, and reaffirmed the principle of leadership of the working class and its Party, the RCP. Even though a number of RCYB members (a clear minority) had been swayed by the degenerate hacks, the conference recognized that uncovering and removing the reactionary leaders actually strengthened their organization and signified a big victory. For it was like cutting out a cancerous tumor–removing the sickness strengthens the patient. And this experience helps educate members about why certain people who claim to be revolutionaries “go bad,” linking this to the question of class outlook and class struggle in society as a whole. All told, the situation in the RCYB is truly excellent, and the basis is laid for even further advances in organizing among students and youth.

In the weeks to come, the RCYB plans to develop a Communist Consolidation Campaign to thoroughly study and discuss the questions raised in the struggle with these opportunists, in order to better understand why things like this inevitably occur, how to analyze it and grow stronger in the struggle against it. The RCYB will also study how the struggle between correct and incorrect ideas (and the people who hold them) is an integral part of the struggle for revolution–in fact it’s the way that real understanding develops, and that’s a good thing. They will study more systematically and deeply the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought in order to oppose the revisionism pushed by the clique and in this way the RCYB will become better able to grasp and apply Marxism and to recognize and defeat all forms of opportunism.

Work Ahead

At the close of the one-day Cincinnati conference, the RCYB members briefly mapped out guidelines for the organization’s work during the coming months. This includes plans to fight the Bakke decision against affirmative action programs and building nationwide support among youth for the peoples of southern Africa struggling for liberation from imperialism and racist rule. Another emphasis will be building support for the current coal miners’ struggle. Local chapters will investigate conditions facing youth in their areas, stressing the application of the mass line and building struggle around such issues as jobs for youth and police repression. In addition, beginning plans were made for the RCYB’s second national convention to be held later in the spring. The convention’s purpose will be to repudiate the revisionist garbage pushed by the former misleaders in the Brigade, and to grasp more firmly the correct line on the class struggle in the U.S., the role of the RCYB in that struggle, and other questions. It will build off the fundamentally solid strengths of the first RCYB convention.

In contrast to the revolutionary achievements of the Cincinnati meeting, the Menshevik former Brigaders continue to sink further into the swamp. At a meeting held later, they decided to drop the name “communist” from their organization, dub it the Revolutionary Student Brigade (our emphasis), and de-emphasize the crucial work among working class youth. In a pitiful maneuver, their meeting also decided-based on predictably little study–to take a position on a decisive question for which they had blasted the RCP for an “undemocratic” “rush to judgment.” The reason they took this position now? According to leading speakers, they had a pressing necessity for “tactical reasons”–they needed a position to combat the RCP’s. And after all, if they were wrong “they could always change the position later”!

CP(ML) Jumps to Defense

Although defeated and exposed in their attempts to seize control of the RCYB, it cannot in all honesty be said that the small clique of former RCP members have had no success with their opportunist line they tried to peddle among youth and students. Not surprisingly, they have attracted the attention and admiration of an equally slimy group of opportunists, the so-called “Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).” In the February 6 issue of their slander sheet. The Call, they show how willing they are to slither and crawl, and twist their already ragged line in order to encourage and accommodate others of their own opportunist ilk. For instance, they do everything but come right out and endorse the clique’s opposition to the name “communist” for the Party’s youth group–even though they have named their own rump youth group the “Communist Youth Organization.” (Of course their chairman Mike Klonsky has always shown his willingness to bend his “principles” when the question of a few more dues-paying warm bodies are at stake.)

But more serious and exposing is the overall unity on line concerning the question of youth (and other things) between the self-styled former RCYB careerists and the CP(ML). For instance, they both “reverse correct verdicts” on the gains of the mass student struggles of the ’60s. The Call, reprinting a page from Klonsky’s social pacifism in SDS days, criticizes the observation made in the RCP’s recently published youth polemic on the formation of the RCYB that advanced ideas and actions, like carrying NLF and red flags in the anti-war marches, had a positive “shock” effect–and in much the same way, so would open use of the name “communist.” In fact, experience has shown that this “shock” sometimes angered some people, but also spurred many others–especially youth who were already questioning what the hell was going on–to check out further why someone was willing to risk heckling and opposition for such a controversial question.

Of course, this is not (and, was not portrayed as) the main way to bring out communism among the masses of youth–but the opportunists’ stand on this question clearly betrays their right-wing essence. Bringing communism and working class ideology to the masses is a concrete task of the RCYB, not a “frill” to be added in “stages” or just “drawn out of their experiences” in struggle. Putting it in a name alone, and negating the propagation of the ideology of communism in fact, is not enough (as can be seen by the CP[ML]’s example).

Idealist Notion?

The Call article, in a similar rightist vein, goes on to attack as an “idealist notion” the line in the RCP Programme that while youth face many problems, “the most basic problem the masses of young people face is the fact that imperialism is unable to offer them a life with a purpose.” (p. 157) This attack is in fundamental unity with the outlook of the former NO clique. Particular attacks must of course be fought, but underlying all this is the basic fact that imperialism can offer youth no purpose. All it can offer is a lifetime of exploitation and oppression because of its very nature. This is perceived by youth to a certain degree, but it is a truth that must be brought home to them and raised to a rational level in their understanding.

In the Call’s Menshevik search for something palpable and concrete, these rightists narrow down and underplay the great potential for the proletariat to rally and guide youth’s “enthusiasm, its innovativeness, its daring and its determination to change the world” (Programme, p. 158) for the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system by proletarian revolution. Such a line can in no way grasp why and how Mao Tsetung could have stated in “Orientation of the Youth Movement” that in a way youth play a vanguard role in the revolutionary struggle struggle–a struggle whose main force and leadership in this country is the working class.

One other way the CP(ML) tries to snuggle up to the defeated faction is by worshipping bourgeois democracy to defeat democratic centralism. They quote the RCP document which says that the line put forward there is not for “free debate” as evidence that dictatorship exists within the RCP. This is ironic, because in fact this question had been discussed and debated among comrades doing youth work for many months– the “Appeal” that was written was part of that process, and the RCP document was the summation of the line, as deepened through that process, which was soon to be implemented at the convention. It was precisely because some of the opportunist clique’s factional machinations during this period had been uncovered that it was necessary for this document to clearly spell out that comrades must firmly unite to carry out the line, which is merely a restatement of a Leninist principle of democratic centralism.

The working class and its vanguard Party, the RCP, see the gains of the recent Cincinnati conference as a real victory–not only for the youth in the RCYB, but for our class as a whole. Defeating the attempt at an opportunist coup within the Brigade, deepening the criticism of the clique’s revisionist line, and grasping and further developing the correct line of the RCP will ensure that the RCYB will continue on the revolutionary path charted at its founding convention.

This is the type of organization that can really serve the interests of our class, the type of organization that sons and daughters of the working class and other youth dedicated to fighting for its revolutionary cause in the neighborhoods and campuses can join with pride. Not only will it fight for better conditions for young people, more than that it will provide a real alternative to the decadence and dog-eat-dog system and outlook the ruling class tries to train and coerce youth, along with the masses of people, to accept as ̶the only way” and the “natural order of things.” The Revolutionary Communist Party has complete confidence that the RCYB will continue to be the place where youth will truly find a life with a purpose, in helping to accomplish the historic task of the working class–making proletarian revolution, and freeing all of mankind.