Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

NYC Forum: CWP General Secretary Launches Great Debate of the 80’s


First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 21, June 16, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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NEW YORK, N.Y. – On June 27, 400 people from different backgrounds and from various organizations packed the 1199 union hall to learn from and participate in the first Communist Workers Party forum, the first stop in a nationwide tour. Members and friends of the Communist Workers Party were there in force. People from the communities, campuses and workplaces in New York and New Jersey came because of posters they saw plastered everywhere, spraypainted slogans or from leaflets handed to them in the streets. Groups like the New Alliance, Revolutionary Socialist Alliance, the Gay Activist Alliance and the Spartacus League came too.

The May Day Singers began the evening with stirring revolutionary songs like “The Ballad of the Communist Workers Party 5.” Then came that part of the program awaited by all, the presentation by Comrade Jerry Tung, General Secretary of the Communist Workers Party and the great debate afterwards.

Four Main Points of Jerry Tung, CWP General Secretary’s, Presentation

Our General Secretary’s presentation covered four main points. First, Comrade Tung talked about why the 80’s economic crisis will make the 30’s Great Depression look like a picnic. Using OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), the organization of coffee producing countries and other examples, he pointed out that today, unlike the 30’s, the U.S. monopoly capitalists cannot export their economic crisis to the third and second world countries. The emergence of the third world countries’ and peoples’ struggles against both the U.S. and Soviet social-imperialists is an especially significant difference. The third world is the main force in the world against both superpowers and are greatly weakening the U.S. ruling class. And the difference between the 30’s and the 80’s is that today the bourgeoisie can no longer resort to the Keynesian trick of deficit-financing to temporarily hold off economic crisis.

Comrade Tung’s second main point was that in spite of the bourgeoisie’s talk about “reindustrializing America,” only under workers’ rule, the dictatorship of the proletariat, can this country be reindustrialized. In order for the bourgeoisie to reindustrialize they must first concentrate all their individual resources and power, and this they can’t do because they are unable to agree on who is to sacrifice himself for the sake of the others.

Third, the General Secretary went into what the character of the Party’s work should look like today. He pointed out how the economic crisis is changing every American’s life in an unprecedented way, black and white, working class and petty bourgeoisie. Using Levittown and Miami as examples, he showed the inflammability of the political situation in the U.S. today. Comrade Tung talked about how volatile public opinion is today, how it can change from blaming Iranians one day to demonstrating against the government’s draft registration the next. The bourgeoisie, he said, is trying to polarize the U.S. people around itself, toward fascism and world war. That’s why the Party, in order to take full advantage of the masses’ political awakening, must put out our propaganda in the forefront and reach out to the vast majority of American people.

Finally, the General Secretary laid out why it is that we can and will win in the struggle to seize state power and establish workers’ rule. He talked about how the 80’s will bring great sacrifice and suffering to the American people, but it will also be a time of great opportunity for the working class to emancipate itself. With sharp line and strong leadership, the Party can and will lead the working class to victory.

Lively Debate Deepens Audience Grasp of What To Do In The 80’s

After a standing ovation for Comrade Jerry Tung, the great debate began. One Afro-American woman from Brooklyn questioned whether Levittown really signified the desperation of white workers today. The General Secretary talked about the need of comrades and friends to grasp the desperation of white workers in particular today. Unlike Afro-Americans who’ve always been kept down on the bottom of U.S. society, most white workers in the past had a house, at least one and maybe two cars in the garage, and a stable, relatively better-paying job. Sending their children to college and expecting a better life for them was a realizable goal. But today, the capitalist economic crisis has robbed white workers of all these things, and they are in the middle of an abrupt transition from thinking of themselves as the “haves” to the “have-nots.” This is why seven out of 10 whites interviewed on a Miami radio show were sympathetic with the rebellion. Comrade Tung said that if you think that white workers aren’t desperate, that all are racists and not open to communist views, then you won’t reach out to them. And if you don’t reach out to them, then you leave white workers for the bourgeoisie to polarize to the side of fascism and war.

To Trotskyites Revolution Far Away

The Trotskyites attacked the Party’s view that a spontaneous revolutionary situation could arise in the next few years. The Trotskyites argued that before the working class could take state power, it must fully understand the goals of the revolution, that is, building socialist society.

Comrade Tung polemicized that the Trotskyites didn’t understand that the masses make revolution not out of choice, but of necessity. The vanguard Party of the working class must be clear on the goals of the revolution. But all that is necessary for the working class to seize state power is that it knows that it can’t live under capitalism, it isn’t anti-communist, it knows that the Party is on their side, has confidence in the Party, and most important the Party is prepared to lead the fight to take state power. Only under the dictatorship of the proletariat, workers’ rule, can the working class really be educated about the necessity of workers’ rule, only then can the class begin to reach its full potential as the class to end all classes. Basically the Trotskyites see the bourgeoisie as strong and not weak. Because they don’t believe in Mao’s Three Worlds Theory, they are blind to the friends the U.S. proletariat has around the world, dealing death blows to the monopoly capitalists. They don’t see how fragile the bourgeoisie’s rule is today, and can’t see how a spontaneous revolutionary situation could develop in the next few years.

Run the Party’s Line Now Or People Won’t Remember You

The Trotskyites, flowing from their view that revolution is far away, do not see the immediate need to give a communist solution to every American. They attacked the Party’s line of putting propaganda in the forefront. The Trotskyites are locked into the reformist framework of chasing after immediate issues, thinking that these are workers’ main concern. But workers don’t give a damn about an 8% versus 9% wage increase. Even a 10% increase will be stripped fast by inflation at 20, 30, 40%. People are concerned about what’s happening to the whole U.S. society today. They demand to know the truth about capitalism and about the only alternative, revolutionary socialism. That’s why the party must push out its views in a full and comprehensive way on a day-to-day basis, addressing every aspect of worker’s lives, and not save propaganda for “special” occasions. This way when the spontaneous revolutionary situation comes, people will remember us and turn to our leadership.

After the evening of lively debate ended with the premier showing of Red November, Black November, people left the auditorium with a better understanding of why the Communist Workers Party calls on the American people to seize the time and prepare for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The New York forum was just the first stop on the Communist Workers Party’s national tour. Next stop is Greensboro, North Carolina, where Jerry Tung, General Secretary of the CWP will speak on July 13. On July 12 there will also be a forum in California, in the Bay Area.