Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party, USA (Marxist-Leninist)

A Reply to the RCP: “Mao Defenders” Sow Ideological Confusion and Provoke Reaction

First Published: Unite!, Vol. 5, No. 17, October 1, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A Party of Mao Tsetung Thought

The RCP has worked hard to become known as the great defender of Mao Tsetung Thought in the U.S. over the last year. RCP cadre and supporters attacked the Chinese Embassy in Washington, disrupted a press conference with Teng Hsiao-p’ing and marched through the streets of Washington, San Francisco and Seattle in red blazers and berets waving the “little red book” and posters of Mao Tsetung and the Gang of Four. From coast to coast, the RCP’s name has become synonymous with that of Mao Tsetung.

The RCP’s great defense of Mao Tsetung Thought flows directly from its revisionist program which states, ”Mao Tsetung today represents the struggle of Marxism-Leninism vs. revisionism, of the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie. For this reason, the Revolutionary Communist Party proudly raises the banner of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, and bases itself upon the application of it to the revolutionary struggle in the U.S.” (p.9).

In fact, the RCP has replaced Marxism-Leninism with Mao Tsetung Thought. In its campaign, “A Fitting Welcome for Teng”, its main slogan was “Uphold Mao and the Gang of Four”, not “Defend Marxism-Leninism”. Those arrested in the course of these demonstrations are known as the “Mao Defendants.”

This is no simple matter of words or phrasing. It is not the science of Marxism-Leninism which guides the RCP but an eclectic system of thought which contains within it both “left” and Right revisions of Marxism-Leninism. Mao Tsetung Thought replaces the leading role of the proletariat in the revolutionary struggle with youth, students and lumpen elements and denies the vanguard role of the Marxist-Leninist party, instead advocating a party of contending classes and factional warfare. Mao Tsetung Thought further calls for rights and privileges for the bourgeoisie under socialism instead of its complete suppression as a class.

A Party of Spontaneity

The RCP also adopted the view of Mao Tsetung Thought that a “single spark can start a prairie fire.” For the RCP, this means running after every spontaneous outbreak of protest in hopes that it may be the “spark to start the revolution aflame.” For years, the RCP tailed after the spontaneous movement and especially glorified wildcat strikes without regard to whether or not they actually advanced the cause of the working class. This was most evident in their promotion of the miners’ wildcats prior to the national coal strike in 1977.

Recently the RCP has taken a new tack. With their party in chaos and membership sliced in half as a result of factional infighting, the RCP sought a way to rebuild its ranks. In desperation, the RCP swung “left” in hopes of attracting petty bourgeois and lumpen elements with ultra-revolutionism. In their press they call for all ex-Black Panthers to join the RCP and ”rebuild the revolutionary movements of the ’60’s.” They characterize their demonstrations of “red-book waving” as “the most militant demonstrations since the ’60’s.” “The spirit of the Cultural Revolution was coming alive in the streets of Washington”, reported the RCP on its anti-Teng demonstrations. “Hearing chants of ’Mao, Mao, Mao Tsetung, Revolution’s Gonna Come!’,” thrilled an enraptured RCP reporter, “a dozen youths came out of a pool hall yelling, changing the chant to “Revolution’s Coming Now!”

There is a marked connection between the present adventurism of the RCP with its appeal to the declassed elements of the society and the RCP’s social origins. The Revolutionary Union – predecessor of the RCP – worshipped the Black Panther Party in the late 1960’s and glorified people such as Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale, who openly advocated that the lumpen elements of society were the most revolutionary. Current RCP Chair Bob Avakian and the rest of the founders of the RU were well known for their boot-licking stand toward anything and everything proclaimed by the Panthers. This view of ”third world workers” taking the lead in the revolutionary struggle and the denial of the role of the white proletariat is a clear reflection of Mao Tsetung Thought.

The social appeal of the RCP today has not changed in the least. The RCP holds that what is revolutionary are the declassed elements of society. Revolutionary action is translated into adventurist provocations. While the early development of the RU proceeded by tailing after the “third world” leaders of the Panthers, today the RCP is noted for its complete white supremacist attitude which denies the special oppression of the Black masses.

The RCP believes that the true testimonial to its “revolutionary character” is the fact that since the first of the year, more than 200 of its cadre and supporters have been arrested. The RCP is so thoroughly impressed with its ultra-leftism that it proclaims that the police attacks upon its demonstrations were the “most vicious police assault since the ’60’s.” But as most people know, it is not at all difficult to get arrested: in and of itself this is not an indication of the revolutionary character of anyone or anything.

More importantly, to think that the attack upon its demonstrations is the most vicious police attack since the 1960’s flies in the face of reality and clearly indicates how the RCP views itself in relation to the struggle of the masses of people in the U.S. The RCP would have a difficult time explaining its ridiculous assertion to the Puerto Rican people of Chicago’s Humbolt Park, the Black masses in Birmingham who came under police siege for days on end, or the Stearns miners whose families’ lives were jeopardized by shots into their homes, and their town turned into an armed encampment of State troopers. The RCP’s arrogant, self-inflated view of itself as the maker of revolution contradicts reality as well as the Marxist-Leninist understanding of who it is that really makes revolution.

This infantile leftism which so highlights current RCP activity in no way obliterates its Rightist essence. A cursory examination of its newspaper for the working class, “Revolutionary Worker”, shows that the RCP has not abandoned its longstanding view that the only kind of agitation and propaganda the working class is ready for is swear words and “righteous anger” – certainly not Marxism-Leninism. The RCP undertakes “left” adventurist activities for the lumpen and the petty bourgeoisie while dishing up pre-digested pabulum for the working class. Swinging widely between “left” adventurism, which can only provoke state attacks on the masses, and rank economism is yet another reflection of the eclectic system of thought, Mao Tsetung Thought, which the RCP so avidly defends.

American Exceptionalism

Just as the RCP defends the revision of Marxism-Leninism in China under the guise that the concrete conditions in China called for it, the RCP revises Marxism-Leninism in the U.S. This is not a new development in the U.S., as the CPUSA, even in its revolutionary period, suffered from American exceptionalism. This is a view that denies the history and experience of the international communist movement on the pretense that conditions in the U.S. are different. Most characteristic of American exceptionalism is the view that belittles the strength and dangerousness of U.S. imperialism. It is a view that holds that U.S. imperialism can transform itself. It is this view which led Earl Browder in the 1930’s and ’40’s to promote the view that socialism could come about peacefully in the U.S. because of its great “democratic character”. This is obviously a view which dovetails closely with the revisionist theory of “three worlds” and calls for aligning with U.S. imperialism against Soviet social-imperialism on the basis that U.S. imperialism is no longer a great danger to the world’s people. The RCP continues to hold this theory, even though it now says that it should not be viewed as a strategy.

The RCP has taken up this banner of American exceptionalism. Its stand on the Black Nation in the South is a classic example. It declared that while there once was a Black Nation, today there no longer is. Instead, the RCP says there is a nation of a “new type”. Thus it revises the Marxist-Leninist understanding of what constitutes a nation and denies the history of the international communist movement regarding the Black Nation in particular.

Both Chinese revisionism and American exceptionalism express disdain for the international communist movement, its past and present. Both attack comrade Stalin’s theory and practice. This is a road the RCP has pursued from its inception. The RCP for years adopted a stand of complete disregard for the international proletariat, pursuing absolutely no contacts with any Marxist-Leninists internationally as if it were the only force in the whole world. This flowed from its arrogant, self-inflated view of itself and is typical of a revisionist force within U.S. imperialism, the greatest oppressor of the world’s people in all history. Yet in its attempt to secure a leading role in the international trend of Mao Tsetung Thought, it marched into Europe and demanded that various Marxist-Leninist parties attend its Mao Memorial meeting in New York, with no prior contact or understanding of the political views of these parties!

Following its brand of “internationalism”, the RCP centers its “attack” against opportunism not against the actual opportunists, but against the Marxist-Leninists and socialist Albania. While genuine Marxist-Leninists are waging the struggle against Chinese revisionism, exposing the source of Chinese revisionism, the alliance between China and U.S. imperialism, the RCP ignores this in order to develop its polemic against Enver Hoxha. By doing so, the RCP covers for the current rulers in Peking by not exposing the very basis upon which they came to power.

And while China launched its attack upon Vietnam and the U.S. bourgeoisie and its apologists like Joan Baez launch the largest anti-Vietnamese propaganda campaign since the war, the RCP developed a major polemic against Vietnam concluding that there never was socialism in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh and other Vietnamese revolutionaries were never communists. Who other than the Chinese revisionists can such an attack serve at this time? It is no accident that today the RCP launches such a reactionary attack upon Vietnam, for in the late 1960’s it was the RCP’s predecessor, the RU, which argued that workers would not oppose the Vietnam War and therefore the education and mobilization of the workers against U.S. aggression should not be carried out! Today they have merely concocted theoretical justifications for their longstanding national chauvinism.

At this time the RCP primarily serves to sow ideological and political confusion among the masses. The bourgeoisie promotes the RCP as the “communists” in the U.S. just as they once promoted the CIA-front U.S. Labor Party, (NCLC). The bourgeoisie has given the RCP tremendous press coverage with full-page articles in the newspaper and interviews on television. It does this to generate confusion and distrust about communists and communism. “Communists” who run through the streets waving “red books” and posters of Mao Tsetung, dressed in red blazers and berets, who provoke police attacks and wage major campaigns to “free the Mao Defendants” appear infantile in the eyes of the working class. This is as the bourgeoisie wishes it to appear – as though communism and revolution do not apply to the U.S., but only to other countries and people. This kind of “left” infantile activity is similar to that of the Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists (COUSML) which once declared that “Chairman Mao is our Chairman.”

But though today the provocations of the RCP are aimed toward the defense of Mao, tomorrow it will become all-out assaults against the revolutionary movement. In other countries, such as Turkey, the counterparts of the RCP have murdered genuine Marxist-Leninists. These forces, like the RCP, are social-fascists which speak of socialism in words but carry out the activity of fascists. In 1974, the RCP sided with the Ku Klux Klan against the Black masses in Boston. Tomorrow the RCP will escalate these attacks. Just as the NCLC launches attacks against progressive people and communists, so too has the RCP. While at this time the attacks against our Party by the RCP have been few, we have no doubt but that these will mount.

In 1968 several of the leading members of our Party recognized the true revisionist essence of the RCP, then the RU. This view has only been confirmed and deepened over time and developments in the class struggle. On the road ahead the struggle against Mao Tsetung Thought and the RCP will sharpen greatly as they are exposed before the eyes of the masses as serving the bourgeoisie and enemies of the working class.