Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Jerry Tung

May Day Speech, 1978


First Published: The Socialist Road, 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: Jerry Tung

Comrades and friends:

May Day 1978 is International Workers Day. The 112-day miners’ strike just ended has special meaning for us today. As the economic crisis deepens, the bourgeoisie must intensify its attack on the working class. The staunch defiance of the miners forced the government to intervene by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act. This made the economic strike more political in character, drawing out the sympathy and support of workers across the country. ..

Yes, the working class giant is stirring – and the impact of this stirring during these past three months is just a preview of the far greater impact which will be felt for years to come – the impact of the rage and power of the fully awakened giant.

However, many of us comrades who have just gotten into the work of organizing in trade unions need to watch out for romanticism. Even though the miners’ struggle is one of the most political struggles in the last few years, it is still a very low level political struggle. This is related to the low level of class consciousness of most of the workers in this country today. As most of us know, when we talk to workers about the need to overthrow the capitalist system, some of them will say, “I am not a member of the working class; I belong to the middle class. I have some gripes about this system, but this is still the best system around, and I am not about to overthrow it for some kind of new system called socialism.” And this is a very common response.

Sometimes we may get upset because we feel that these workers really don’t know what is in their own interests, what is best for themselves or for their family and friends. But that is where the thing is at today.

Even though the advanced, active, or more conscious workers are beginning to see their true class interests – and that’s the significance of the miners’ strike of the last three months – the overall limitation of workers’ class consciousness is still the basis for the real limitation of the miners’ strike. That is why even though it was a tremendously good beginning, the miners’ struggle still didn’t and won’t change the system, won’t uproot the real source of the problem, which is the capitalist system.

This is why we are saying to friends and comrades who are romantic, who get a little carried away by the immediate prospect of a proletarian revolution based on the militance of the miners’ strike, that there is class consciousness and class consciousness, and there are political struggles and political struggles. They come in different levels and different degrees.

Class Consciousness

Today the working class is existing at a very low level of what Marx called “the class in itself.” What he means is that even though the working class exists as a class in reality, the workers themselves do not fully and deeply understand nor fight for their long term class interests. The majority of workers today will only fight for their immediate interests, such as their jobs or salaries, the quality of their housing, their working conditions, their children’s education, and their living conditions. Thus, although the level of working class consciousness is rising rapidly today, it is still at a relatively low level. And we must be sober about that and not kid ourselves about it. Otherwise we will be off the mark, become impatient in our struggle and make a lot of mistakes.

When we talk about the need for workers and all the oppressed people to develop class consciousness, we mean that they must see their long term interests – not just what’s good for them now, but what’s good for their future, and their children’s future.

But can the workers, the class as a whole, come to see all of that by themselves? No, definitely not. You would need to be a genius to come to these conclusions on your own. This level of understanding requires the kind of knowledge of history which has been summed up by a few great revolutionary leaders – Karl Marx, Lenin and Mao – based on the history of class struggle.

That is why we say that the recent miners’ struggle is only as political and as class conscious as it can become spontaneously. To take it to a higher level, to make the proletarian revolution so that the entire working class and all the oppressed can be free, we must do Marxist or communist education, and there is absolutely no substitute for it.

And even this communist education is not enough. The whole society and the people must also learn from their own experiences, go through things like Watergate, the war in Vietnam, the bankruptcy of liberal politicians like Jimmy Carter, etc. While the advanced workers and all advanced, conscious elements will come to see the whole situation and the road ahead through life experience and studying Marxism, the majority of people must still learn through their own lessons, through respect for communists, whom they recognize are the most committed, who are not arrogant, who fight, fail, fight, fail again, fight again, until they begin to see results. It is through respect for that kind of indomitable spirit and willing self-sacrifice and through their own experiences that the whole working class will start to join in and make revolution together with us. That’s why Mao said that the task of the international working class and the law that governs the revolutionary struggle is “fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again.. .until their victory.” The Russian people’s revolution followed this law, and so has the Chinese people’s revolution. And we say, yes, so will the U.S. proletarian revolution!

Trade Union Movement

Now as you can see, looking around you, that most of us have come out of national movements. Many of us don’t have the same kind of feel for the trade union or workers’ movements as we do for the national movements. So it is very important to talk about the differences. This is very important because the pace of the trade union movement or working class awakening is different from the movement of oppressed nationalities. This is important because, a lot of us today see some white workers who still have racist ideas. This kind of thing makes a lot of comrades and friends from the Afro-American, Latin, and Asian movements uptight, reluctant to unite with white workers, and unable to see the great strength of the multinational working class.

Because the socialist, or the proletarian, revolution has got to be made by the working class. And the working class is multinational, made up of workers from all different races and national backgrounds. A big part of class consciousness in this country is to appreciate the need to fight racism and national oppression. And a big part of it is to appreciate the need to unite and fight together as members of the single American multinational proletariat.

In 1974, in the second Workers Viewpoint Journal, we put forward the analogy of the fire at the treetops (the national, student movements of the 60’s and 70’s) burning down to the tree trunks the awakening, rising working class movement). Any analogy suffers from superficiality. It is too simplistic to see the flow of the national movement going down and the flow of the workers’ movement going up. The national movement doesn’t just end. The political character of the working class movement rises slowly, though it goes through leaps like the miners’ strike.

For example, since the McCarthy era, the workers’ movement has risen gradually, in a time perspective of years and decades. But the national movement, since its political awakening in the 60’s, has constantly risen to new peaks, flaring up again and again to new heights that can be clearly marked from a perspective of weeks and months. This is especially clear right now, with Carter’s official policies (the Bakke case, American policy toward South Africa, “workfare/welfare”) generalizing attacks on all oppressed nationalities. These policies unify and give form to the opposition to the government.

In other words, the political character of the national movements is reinforced and heightened by government policies, especially when these official policies come down on the Afro-Americans, Latins and Asians all together.

But the trade union movement is different. The nature of the trade union struggle is still around wages and working conditions, that is, still individual economic struggles against individual bosses. The government and the politicians are able to pretend to take a “hands off” policy, saying, “What you negotiate is your business; we will only mediate if necessary.” This kind of policy makes the representatives of the capitalists – the government – look neutral, as if it is not defending the interests of the capitalists, the big corporations, the banks, the Rockefellers and Morgans.

This gives workers false ideas about the Democratic Party, Jimmy Carter, and the true role of government. They do not see clearly their common enemy, the capitalist class. Nor do they understand that the government is actually the machinery to run and safeguard the capitalists’ interests.

That is why today’s trade union struggles are isolated, scattered and not linked up and united. That is why they are economic in character and not broad and political in nature. That is why we are saying that the recent miners’ strike is as political as the trade union movement gets nowadays, given the overall level of class consciousness of the majority of workers in this country today.

The question must be raised why the level of working class consciousness still remains so low today – why it seems so difficult for the American workers to identify their class enemy, see their true class interests, and fight for their emancipation. The answer to this question is the nature of trade union leadership in this country.

We need to understand the differences between the trade union misleaders and the misleaders in the national movement today. We need to understand why so many trade union leaders act as scabs, promoting racism at home and chauvinist attitudes internationally.

Since the multinational workers’ movement is so much more dangerous to the bourgeoisie than the national movement, their wrecking and splitting activities are also much more fierce.

The McCarthy era ushered in a prolonged period of capitalist stabilization. The degeneration of the CPUSA left the workers’ movement to be taken over by the labor aristocracy from top to bottom. These agents of the bourgeoisie, like Meany, Fitzsimmons, Abel and Miller, are better defenders of the bourgeoisie than the bourgeoisie themselves. They preach reformism, Keynesian economics and class conciliation. They try to blindfold the workers ideologically by keeping them within the confines of scattered economic struggles while politically attacking working class independence and political awareness. By backing the U.S. imperialist foreign policy 200%, they cut the links between the U.S. workers and peoples of other countries. By preaching chauvinism and Jim Crowism, they attack the class unity and brotherhood of workers of different nationalities in the United States.

Because the trade unions are far more stable organizations than the organizations of the national movements, the misleadership in the trade unions are also far more deeply entrenched. Since the political awakening of the 60’s, the leadership of the national movement has been fluid and has changed rapidly. From the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to the Black Panther Party, from Kawaida nationalism to Nkrumaism and Pan-Africanism to Marxism, the leading ideology has changed rapidly. Incorrect views are rapidly abandoned, while the leadership is wide open. This has enabled the communists to guide the national movement to a higher level as the Workers Viewpoint Organization is doing today. This is very different from the workers’ movement in the last 20 years.

But an excellent situation is developing there too. Although some opportunists are still reveling in the nostalgia of the student movement of the 60’s and saying that “the 70’s are not as good as the 60’s,” the objective situation today for organizing is more favorable than in the past 20 years.

The deepening economic crisis and increasing attacks from the bourgeoisie has fueled the resistance of the working class. The scattered strikes of the iron ore workers, the longshoremen, the Pullman Standard workers and the coal miners are dealing blows to the bourgeoisie’s union busting efforts. The wage settlements in these strikes have put a big dent in Carter’s “voluntary” wage control policy. The more the government steps in, the more the state is exposed and its authority weakened. At the same time, these scattered struggles are beginning to link up, forming a trend within the whole working class. The bourgeoisie is increasingly forced to address class wide issues like the right to work laws, the shorter work week, the Labor Law Reform Bill, etc.

It is under these rapidly developing conditions that the diehard representatives of the labor aristocracy, like Meany, Fitzsimmons, and the Abel/McBride gang, are being shaken off their pedestals after 20 years of unchallenged reign. Even Arnold Miller is being exposed after only a brief six-year stint as a “reform” second generation, sellout misleader.

This is an excellent situation and it is precisely under these favorable conditions that communists must strive conscientiously “first to learn, second to learn, and third to learn” the concrete facts and issues in order to grasp the laws of development of the trade union movement. The Party, and only the Party of the U.S. working class can make the real difference in the direction of the trade union movement. We must take the outlook of earnestness and humility, to learn, mainly from the masses, but also from the trade union misleaders and opportunists. This outlook is indispensible to raising our ability to win and train the advanced to the Party and to replace systematically and persistently the misleaders by winning the broad masses of workers to our leadership.

Character of Ebbs and Flows

The character of ebbs and flows of class struggle in feudal, agrarian societies (like pre-revolutionary Russia and China) is different from the character of ebbs and flows in advanced capitalist societies (like the United States and Western Europe). In feudal societies, the flows are few and far between, separated by decades or even hundreds of years because of the low level of development of the economic base. Without the organization of the working class, flows cannot sustain themselves. So there are big struggles and big failures, followed by suppression and stagnation for long periods of time. Rebellions and revolutions come only as rare, historical incidents. The form of rule under feudalism is mainly the “stick” – the openly terroristic, direct brutal suppression of the masses.

In advanced capitalist societies, the economic struggle is a constant day to day occurrence. Scattered strikes and walkouts are normal. This is because the proletariat is the only class capable of sustaining a stable organization (the trade unions) to fight to maintain their livelihood. But these scattered strikes do not necessarily mean that there is a flow. For instance, in the 60’s, more strikes occurred than in the 70’s. This doesn’t mean that there was a flow in the 60’s and that it ebbed in the 70’s. Economic struggles are scattered and sporadic. A flow in the working class develops as these scattered struggles in different shops and industries become increasingly frequent and are more and more linked up. They become more political in character and broaden out to the whole class. The miners’ strike is a good example of how a single strike can be the beginning of a flow because of widespread support among all workers. On the other hand, it is possible to have many scattered strikes that still do not gather momentum because they remain isolated.

The trade union movement is like a solid log that burns slowly, but hot. The national movement can flare up and spread quickly, like sparks, and it can aid the politicization of the workers’ movement. But the proletarian movement can sustain itself more – it stays hot. Gradually, through the ebbs and flows, the workers’ movement becomes more and more political. It is the task of Communists to make this movement into a class conscious movement to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

Superstructure work is necessary to aid the politicization of the trade union movement. This is related to the form of rule in the United States today. The bourgeoisie in advanced capitalist countries has been forced to develop a more flexible form of rule – bourgeois democracy. Many struggles in the base are diverted into a multitude of forms in the superstructure (labor boards, agencies, courts, etc.) to give the bourgeoisie more flexibility in maintaining power over the masses. In order to engage the bourgeoisie, we must work in these forms, particularly at this time when the masses are not class conscious.

Bourgeois democracy also uses the superstructure to create public opinion through the media (newspapers, books, television, etc.) and through churches, cultural groups, schools, etc. Unlike the Bolsheviks in pre-revolutionary Russia, where there was only the tzarist Duma (parliament) for Communists to utilize, in the United States today we can and must make use of all these varied forms to propagate our cause and raise political consciousness.

This has implications for the different kinds and forms of accumulation for the Party. Our preparatory work must be rich and varied and all-rounded in order to serve the winning and training of the advanced workers in this period. Although we must respect the historical experiences of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, we must also grasp the particularities of the United States as an advanced capitalist country.

Proletariat: Class to End ALL Classes

.. .The proletariat is the greatest class in the history of mankind, it is the most powerful revolutionary class ideologically, politically, and in strength; it is the representative of the new productive forces, linked with the most advanced economic forms. In the old society (capitalist society), it was the proletariat that suffered the cruelest exploitation, the most ferocious oppression; it had nothing, owned no means of production and was entirely dependent on the sale of its labor power for its subsistence. As a result of the economic and political position which it occupied, the proletariat had the greatest hatred for the exploiting classes, the broadest perspective, the greatest concern for the collective as opposed to the individual. The proletariat was the most radical in the revolution; it had the strictest sense of discipline and organization (Basic Understanding of the Communist Party of China)

The proletarian revolution is a difficult and protracted struggle. Our revolution is the first revolution in the history of mankind that is a revolution of the majority class, with no interests contrary to the interests of the vast majority of the oppressed people. The great teachers of the proletariat, Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto:

All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.

So, although we must learn from historical lessons, our historical mission is unique. Because the proletariat is the class to end all classes, it is the last class. Our party is the last Party and our class is the last class. What implications does this have for our struggle? The proletarian revolution and the preparation for the revolution must be the most thoroughgoing of all revolutions throughout the history of class struggle. Marx wrote in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”:

The social revolution of the nineteenth century (i.e. the proletarian revolution) cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only from the future.. .proletarian revolutions.. .criticize themselves constantly, interrupt themselves continually in their own course, come back to the apparently accomplished in order to begin it afresh, deride with unmerciful thoroughness (emphasis added) the inadequacies, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their adversary only in order that he may draw new strength from the earth and rise again, more gigantic, before them... until a situation has been created which makes all turning back impossible...

This is the historical perspective of Chairman Mao’s statement to “fight, fail, fight again, fail again, until final victory,” and the perspective for our protracted outlook on the proletarian revolution. We must learn to appreciate the bourgeoisie’s “strength of the old world,” the flexibility of their tactics and their ability to cover for themselves and rise up again. This process is inevitable. For instance, after the movement against the war in Vietnam, it seemed that the chauvinism of the U.S. bourgeoisie was exposed. But now, we see this chauvinism rising again around the Panama Treaty and the recent anti-imports campaign. Another example is Watergate, which seemed to have discredited the bourgeois politicians completely. Then Nixon and his cohorts made sham self-criticisms, and Carter and bourgeois democracy come out looking good. This shows the bourgeoisie’s ability to ride through rough waves come back out on top again, even more centralized.

But all through this, the masses are learning, and their consciousness is being raised, while the bourgeoisie is running out of tricks.

Make Thorough and Systematic Preparation

This larger view and perspective on our historical tasks presents to all of us the need to make thorough and systematic preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat. And we must take it up with the “unmerciful thoroughness” that Marx spoke of.

The Party has been stressing the need to “bite in” to the struggle. It has been correct to push this because we have rallied together a core of young communists. The amount of direct experience we have varies, but overall it is still relatively little. However at the same time we have pushed “biting in,” we have also stressed using all forms of struggle, deepening and broadening the work simultaneously. For example, in November of last year, the Central Committee of the Party laid out the importance of sniffing out larger national issues like the Bakke issue, Carter’s Workfare/Welfare, the amnesty plan, and the larger issue of Social Contract, like Carter’s voluntary wage-control deal. These issues will help us broaden the local struggles as well as raise the political consciousness of the masses in immediate struggles. We also pointed out the necessity of knowing how to use these issues – how to shift gears, using different forms of struggle as the conditions and tempo change.

Day to day struggles, such as the fight for democratic rights and against police brutality, are a favorable basis on which to engage in political struggle against the bourgeoisie (i.e., against their laws). But when the fight for the “realizable gains” of our day to day struggles is not linked to political education and existing political struggles, then these “bitten into” fights can turn economist in character. They will not unleash the advanced nor fire the enthusiasm of the masses. The scope and content of our fighting and our training will become narrow and our preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building up of the Party will become one-sided.

One example is the Party’s work in organizing minority construction workers: our base work, our tactical ability in fighting to get jobs are our historical strengths. However, the Party’s belittling and sometimes outright opposition to superstructure work has hurt our base work and our ability to build up the mass organization. In this respect, frankly, James Haughton of Harlem Fightback has done better than us. This has, in turn hurt our ability to win a broader cross-section of advanced and active workers.

To implement this type of all-rounded preparation, the Party’s work must be “well shod on all four feet,” i.e., we must be able to 1) master all forms of struggle, and 2) be able to change forms readily as conditions change.

Sole reliance on the legal forms without preparation for the illegal, violent forms will lead to serious setbacks. The history of the German Social-Democratic Party at the time when the Anti-Socialist Laws were imposed (end of 1800’s), banning open activities of the communists, illustrates this danger. Many German Communists were so accustomed to the legal forms employed before the Laws were passed, that they lost their orientation and abandoned and sold out their revolution, when conditions changed. Another example is Chile in 1972 where the revisionist Chileans’ line on peaceful transition to socialism through the “ballot box” resulted in the brutal suppression of thousands of unarmed workers, peasants, and intellectuals at the hands of the fascist military junta.

These are some of the bloody history lessons that teach us to master all forms of struggle – open and closed, armed and unarmed, base and superstructure, etc., and to be able to use skillfully combinations of them and change forms when conditions change. But we must develop our work in the different forms before we can be able to change them as conditions require. To develop the Party’s work in different forms is precisely to place the Party’s work “well-shod on all four feet.”

Most of us came out of the spontaneous upsurge in the 60’s and 70’s. As a result, our experience is mainly from the grassroots movements. While we are relatively strong in organizing in the base, we are a lot weaker in doing superstructure work and in doing united front from above. This is in contrast to the German Social-Democrats of the Second International (when they were still revolutionaries) who were strong in superstructure work because the legal, parliamentary form of struggle was the main form and they were in the leadership of many trade unions and had many seats in the parliament. Their weakness was in the illegal and violent forms of struggle.

Also, our origins as Communists were from the anti-revisionist line against the peaceful transition to socialism line, the revisionists’ one-sided stress on superstructure work to the exclusion of base work, and their total disdain for the masses. Our lack of experience, and the struggle against revisionism has led to a certain one-sidedness to our perspective on preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

At this time, while continuing to deepen and develop our base work, we must stress the larger political task of training every Party member to size up the concrete political situation in their area and in the United States, particularly in the superstructure (trade union organizations, Congress, media, etc.)

Lenin wrote in Left-Wing Communism, “Inexperienced revolutionaries often think that legal methods of struggle are opportunist because, in this field, the bourgeoisie has most frequently deceived and duped the workers, while illegal methods are revolutionary. That, however, is wrong.”

What is the specific content of our preparation? Comrades have to grasp the nationally specific forms of systematic preparation. For this, we have to know the concretes in the trade union and national movements inside out. We have to know them cold. Learning to master all forms of struggle is especially important in a non-revolutionary situation, which is the normal situation, when conditions for really direct, revolutionary uprising do not yet exist, and work must be done in non-revolutionary reformist and sometimes even downright reactionary organizations. We have to be able to work in there for a protracted period. And this is accomplished not by hiding ourselves, but by doing communist work in mass struggles and in the superstructure along the Party’s line, in the spirit of Partyism.

We must learn to work in old (parliamentary and legal) and new (violent and illegal) forms in a new way, because we are carrying out a new type of preparation. Lenin wrote: “In Western Europe and America, the Communists must learn to create a new, uncustomary, non-opportunist, and non-careerist parliamentarism.... Our work today has such a durable and powerful content that it can and must manifest itself in any form, both new and old. . .not for the purpose of reconciling itself with the old, but for the purpose of making all and every form – new and old – a weapon for the complete and irrevocable victory of communism.” (Left-Wing Communism) So comrades who become, say, shop stewards, cannot learn just how all the other shop stewards carry out their tasks, but must learn to use this form in a new way to serve all-rounded and systematic preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat. These comrades must “influence their environment in the spirit of the whole Party and not allow the environment to swallow them up.” To know the workers’ sentiments is most fundamental. But they have to be bold in plunging into the superstructure work, and do coalition work as well. And all this must be done in the spirit of Partyism.

How do we push out and use all forms of struggle in a new, proletarian way, and not in a labor aristocratic and petty bourgeois way? Lenin wrote in Once More on Partyism and Non-Partyism: “[the masses must develop class consciousness in] their general outlook, ultimate aims, their attitude to the task of the great, international movement for emancipation, their ability to uphold the ideals and methods of the movement for emancipation in Russia. The masses must come out...more party-conscious, more clearly aware of the interests, aims, slogans, points of view and method of action of the different classes.”

Communist Work in Mass Organizations

We have done an initial sum-up of the Party’s work in the New York chapter of Asian-Americans for Equality (AAFE). We feel these lessons should be grasped, as they may not be an exception to the Party’s work in other mass organizations.

We found here the tendency for Party comrades to replace the masses. They were doing all the day-to-day work, making day-to-day decisions for the masses, by-passing the mass organization. This concretely shows disdain and disrespect for the masses. This not only doesn’t unleash and train the masses but in fact is a violation of the basic tenet of Marxism. Marx wrote that the working class must emancipate themselves. This means they must directly carry out the struggle themselves. This tendency in the Party comes from lack of mass line principally. Secondarily, it shows ignorance, on the Party’s part, about how to do communist work in mass organizations.

What is communist work in the mass organizations and movements? It is to aid the immediate struggles, not substitute for them. Because we have great concern for our fellow workers’ all-rounded well being, we have to imbue them with long-term communist orientation on every question.

Lenin summed up a similar phenomenon for the Bolshevik Party during a period of upsurge in 1905. He wrote, “Once again, excessive (and very often foolish) repetition of the word ’class’ and belittlement of the Party’s tasks in regard to the class are used to justify the fact that Social-Democracy is lagging behind the urgent needs of the proletariat. The slogan ’workers’ independent activity’ is again being misused by people who worship the lower forms of activity and ignore the higher forms of really Social-Democratic independent activity, the really revolutionary initiative of the proletariat itself.” (New Tasks, New Forces)

A particular form of disdain and disrespect for the masses shown in New York AAFE is our lack of concern for workers’ political development. Instead workers are viewed by Party members as practical workers to implement the tasks of the day-to-day struggles. So, on the one hand, we replace them and bypass them, and on the other hand, we do not fulfill our political duty as communists.

With this in mind, the Party has formulated three criteria to judge the success of African Liberation Day: 1) the number of Party’s study training circles formed through the mobilization, 2) the Party’s superstructure network set up, and 3) the number of people at ALD.

It is in this spirit of Partyism that we must go ahead with building the Trade Union Educational League, African Liberation Support Committee, etc. – pushing out the political tasks in the context of accumulation to the Party.

Pushing Out and Partyism

What is Partyism and why do we raise it especially at this time?

As Lenin indicated, “The second stage after organizing into a party, consists in learning to prepare for revolution.” To win and train the advanced in the crucible of class struggle and to build up the Party is the main aspect of the first general step of systematic preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat for the noble goal of communism.

Back in September of last year in Chicago, the Trade Union Conference pushed out the Party’s trade union work in a big way, further deepening and consolidating around the correct line. But it was also a milestone in the history of the Party. This conference signalled the end of the fourth period, meaning that Marxist-Leninists all around the country were in the main united and the foundation of the new Communist Party was built. At that time, our horizons widened tremendously. We began to develop a much more comprehensive, all-rounded view of the first general step of preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat. This includes becoming “well-shod on all four feet,’ working in old forms and new forms, and dealing with the question of how to work in these forms in the spirit of Partyism. We are grasping more deeply how to win and train advanced workers to the Party, which includes doing superstructure work, so as to facilitate the first general step.

Since then, in a short period of time, the Party’s work has pushed out rapidly. The African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC), a mass organization with which the Party works closely, has formed a broad united front in the anti-imperialist movement – the National Coalition to Support African Liberation (NCSAL). The NCSAL is now organizing throughout the country for the coming African Liberation Day. The Revolutionary Youth League (RYL) has had its first National Congress, pulling together 15 chapters for the first time and pushing out campaigns against police brutality and taking an active role in the movement against the Bakke decision. National mass organizations in the Asian American and Chicano national movements are also growing. A broad united front in the working women’s movement was successfully initiated by coalitions under the Party’s leadership, laying the basis for a national mass organization of working women in the future. Plans are being made for unemployed workers councils to be kicked off. And the first Trade Union Educational League (TUEL) chapter has been kicked off, organizing support for the coal miners as well as for the New York City Transit workers’ strike. By today, several other chapters throughout the country will have formed. Through the TUEL, we will build up the trade union movement, develop leadership for it and at the same time build up the Party.

Recently in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the Party’s initiative, a coalition for the Wilmington Ten organized a militant demonstration of 3,500. RYL organized a demonstration of 800 in Berkeley High, Oakland, California, as well as a contingent of 800-1,000 in the April 15 Anti-Bakke demonstration in Washington, D.C. It is clear that the Party’s work is really moving. And these are the best conditions, in the heat of class struggle, to forge Partyism, because We have to promote Partyism by actually leading the concrete struggles, and raising the consciousness of the workers, not just by declaring ourselves the leadership.

For example, in the TUEL, we have to build it by organizing workers around a concrete issue, not just by talking about the TUEL and the historical need for it. We must combat timidness in pushing out the TUEL. We are inexperienced, but we can turn this into its opposite. On the other hand, if we don’t promote Partyism and class consciousness in the TUEL, it can degenerate into dual unionism (that is, replace rather than helping to build strong unions), or into sectarianism, a small club irrelevant to the class. Also, if the Party does not work in the TUEL in the correct way, TUEL chapters will sooner or later be autonomous. The chapters could be taken over by the trade union misleaders, the labor aristocrats, and eventually become an arm of the bourgeoisie, instead of being the weapon of the working class. The question here is how to build the TUEL, how to do communist work in the trade unions, and this, besides grasping the law of the trade union movement, is the question of Partyism. That’s why we raise the Party’s slogan: “Make Systematic Preparation for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Build the TUEL!”

Take another example, building for ALD. We know the NCSAL is organizing for it, some of us know the ALSC is building for it, but what is WVO doing for ALD? If you don’t know, you’re not consciously promoting Partyism and class consciousness, and without that the same thing could happen to ALSC as we said could happen to TUEL. If we don’t promote Partyism, we could get big numbers out for ALD, but no motion towards winning new comrades to the Party; and no increase in the prestige of the Party in the eyes of the masses. Of course, we are for large numbers, but numbers is only one aspect of quality; and quality is key in the development of all the Party’s work. We want numbers and winning and training advanced and active workers, and we can get this by promoting Partyism and class consciousness in our work among the masses. We do this so advanced workers can contribute more to the class than just by being trade union militants or mass leaders. But they can be this and also be communists who can link the trade union and national movements and all fronts of class struggle to the proletarian revolution. This is their real potential, when the Party grasps and implements the relation between broadening the work and Partyism.

Five Criteria

So what is Partyism? Partyism is not to have WVO stamped on your forehead or to say “WVO is the Party” at any lull in the conversation. Partyism is to stand with the class and revolution. Partyism is to practice the five criteria of communist party character in struggle. The five criteria and their application to the U.S. conditions is Partyism. The five criteria are the highest understanding of communist party character, summed up from the historical lessons of class struggle by Lenin and then by Chairman Mao. They are concentrated in the five criteria for the membership in the Communist Party of China, which are:
1. Conscientiously study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and criticize revisionism.
2. Work for the interest of the vast majority of the people of China and the world.
3. Be able at uniting with the great majority, including those who have wrongly opposed you but are sincerely correcting their mistakes; however, special vigilance must be maintained against careerists, conspirators and double-dealers so as to prevent such bad elements from usurping the leadership of the Party and the state at any level and guarantee that the leadership of the Party and the state always remains in the hands of Marxist revolutionaries.
4. Consult with the masses when matters arise.
5. Be bold in making criticism and self-criticism.

The Party’s struggle to grasp and implement the five criteria of communist party character is a constant, on-going struggle (which is never achieved completely). The struggle is different for individuals, depending on their particular strengths and weaknesses.

In the main, there are three types of comrades in and around the Party. There are comrades from student and intellectual backgrounds who are relatively strong in studying theory but lack mass line and criticism and self-criticism. Other comrades, from the spontaneous oppressed nationalities movements are experienced in the practical struggles but are relatively weak in theory, and class consciousness. There are also worker comrades who are strong in stand but are relatively weak in theory, and empirical. In complicated situations, they can lose their orientation.

With these three different types of comrades, it is clear that Partyism and Party character cannot be pushed abstractly. We must proceed from the Party’s concrete political tasks and from the weaknesses of concrete individuals with particular backgrounds and histories of development. We must promote their strengths and develop the aspects that are weak in relation to the implementation of the Party’s political tasks in the class.

In the main, the aspect of Party character that must be stressed is the study of Marxism, broadness of mind and proletarian stand in uniting with the vast majority, and the correct and consistent application of mass line in our work.

This May Day we want to stress again the importance of the first criterion, to study Marxism and criticize revisionism, the question of communist orientation. This is the long-term task for every Party comrade for strengthening the building of our Party ideologically. We want to reaffirm this especially because of the great and rapid changes in the international communist movement in the last two years, and the loss of leadership with Chairman Mao’s death. These are conditions which can give rise to ideological disorientation in the Party. Another factor is that many of our Party comrades are young and politically inexperienced, and naturally have difficulties putting things in historical perspective.

The second criterion, to work for the interests of the vast majority, is a question of the stand of the proletariat. There are some comrades in the Party who tend to pit the workers against the Party. They say, “I stand with the workers, not with the party.” These comrades need to deepen their grasp of the second criterion of communist party character. To come from the standpoint of “I stand with the Party” often helps a comrade to gain and learn from political experience. To believe “I stand with the Party” is not employee mentality. The U.S. working class today is a class in itself. To become a class for itself, it needs its Party. In this historical period, the Party represents the best interests of the working class; to stand with the Party is to stand with the working class as a class.

Certainly the development of the Party in the real world with real people goes from lower to a higher level. When we say stand with the Party, we include the need to understand the correct outlook towards the Party’s mistakes and limitations, having confidence in its ability to change. This means comrades and friends in words and in deeds must see the Party as their own Party, its victory and defeats as their own victory and defeats and must consciously fight to supervise the Party and develop it to a higher level. Chairman Mao has said: “The Communist Party is a political party which works in the interests of the nation and people and which has absolutely no private ends to pursue.” These teachings clearly show the character of a proletarian political party, for which the interests of the Party and the working class are the same.

The fourth criterion, to consult with the masses when matters arise, indicates clearly the basic attitude every communist should have in dealing with the masses. The formulation of the correct line, policy and plan of action must itself be a product of mass line. The Party’s work in the New York chapter of AAFE reflects a serious weakness in grasping this criterion. The success of the Party’s work around the country has been the condition for some comrades to develop a “swelled head.” They have become bureaucratic, and do not listen to the masses. The Chinese comrades say:

Some of our comrades often are able to listen humbly to the opinions of the masses when they are unfamiliar with the circumstances, lack experience and when the work is difficult; however, once they become familiar with the circumstances, acquire more experience and when the work is developing smoothly, they begin to think they have the ’capital’ to be arrogant and will no longer listen to the masses’ opinions. If this type of situation is not rectified but is persisted in, it will inevitably go from being alienated from the masses and gradually develop into despotic and arbitrary actions that suppress democracy and promote paternalism. This is thoroughly alien to the proletarian party spirit. We say, being familiar with the circumstances and having more experience is a good condition for carrying out our tasks properly. However, personal knowledge and practical experience is limited after all; compared to the knowledge and practical experience of the millions of the masses, it is no more than a grain afloat in the vast ocean.

The fifth criterion, to be bold in making criticism and self-criticism is first a recognition that a real Party in the real world is bound to make mistakes. The importance of sizing up a given situation, doing timely sum-up, facing up to our shortcomings and vigorously rectifying our own mistakes is a hallmark distinguishing a Communist Party from all other political parties. This was true for the Bolshevik Party, which, as late as in 1917, repudiated its own agrarian program and adopted the program of the Socialist Revolutionaries who were, as a whole, reactionaries. In China, the CPC did not develop the strategy of New Democracy until 1935, 14 years after its formation, nor the comprehensive plan for socialist construction until almost 1960, 10 years after the seizure of state power. In the periods before the plans were consolidated many swings and errors were made because of the lack of comprehensive plans. It was because Chairman Mao faced these situations boldly, recognized and summed up the weakness in the Party’s work that correct strategy, plans, and policies were developed.

In the same spirit, we are seriously summing up the basis and conditions for the mistakes made in New York AAFE as a lesson for our work in mass organizations. These lessons will be used to deepen and further develop our grasp of the correct methods of Communist work in mass organizations and movements.


Our Party’s history is a fierce struggle, and a test of the vanguard elements of the proletariat as to their steadfastness to the Party’s line and direction. This struggle on the historical course of the Party raises the mud from the Party’s stream. There is no doubt that the powerful torrent of the proletarian movement will sweep away all this mud, making the Party even stronger and more Bolshevized.

As Lenin said, “. . such sweeping aside, however, should not be reduced to mere rejection of the old errors, but, what is incomparably more important, it should take the form of constructive revolutionary work towards fulfilling the new tasks, towards attracting into our Party and utilizing the new forces that are now coming into the revolutionary field in such vast masses. It is these questions of constructive revolutionary work that should be the main subject in the deliberations of the forthcoming Third Congress.”