Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Vanguard

CWP: From Workers Viewpoint to Jesse’s Viewpoint

First Published: Workers Vanguard, No. 363, September 28, 1984.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“The Last Workers Viewpoint.” So said the Communist Workers Party, offhandedly announcing that it was closing down its press. This laconic notice in the July 4-17 issue said that in May they had shifted from a weekly to a biweekly “so that the staff could begin a process of reevaluating the paper’s role and direction.” Having re-evaluated, they evidently decided to throw in the towel. The kindest expression we can think of for such a move is lightminded. Say a couple thousand people in this country look to them for leadership...and the CWP just folds up shop. Actually, they are only the latest of numerous ex-Maoist groups and tendencies (following Irwin Silber’s Line of March, Klonsky’s CPML, the Guardian) who have made their way back to the Democratic Party of the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam. The CWP’s vehicle was the Jesse Jackson campaign; thus it is quite appropriate that the last issue of Workers Viewpoint contained a call for electing Mondale.

The CWP is an organization which is best known for its martyrs–the five leftist union organizers and civil rights workers viciously murdered in broad daylight by the KKK/Nazis in Greensboro on 3 November 1979. While in the past the organization had oscillated widely from adventurist substitutionism to crass opportunism, after Greensboro they seemed to turn sharply to Democratic Party politics. Workers Viewpoint turned into an election rag for every black Democrat from Mel King in Boston, Bill Murphy in Baltimore to Harold Washington in Chicago. For the last year they’ve thrown themselves into the Jesse Jackson campaign, seeking to capitalize on his popularity among blacks. In order to sell the black masses the myth of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they have systematically covered up for Jesse’s strikebreaking, his anti-Asian protectionism, and notably Jackson’s embrace of George “Mr. Segregation” Wallace.

Yet as we wrote last winter, “Anyone who wants to go ’all the way with J.J.’ will soon get rid of all the ’red’ trappings anyhow” (“Donkey Work for the Democrats–CWP Caboose on the Jesse Jackson Train,” WV No. 347, 3 February). It seems the CWP membership has come to the same conclusion. After all, if the party press is just a mouthpiece for the Democrats, why bother? (For that matter, if the party branches are just local Jackson support committees, who needs them either?) This flagrant liquidationism culminated at the CWP-organized “People’s Convention” held at Laney College in Oakland on the eve of the Democratic convention in SF to work up an “alternative platform” to present to this bourgeois party. It was here CWP chairman Jerry Tung called for the left to work within the Democratic Party because “we can get funding from the Democrats to sustain our struggles” (Guardian, 25 July).

Of course Mondale, the CWP’s current election choice, was Jimmy Carter’s vice president while government “infiltrators” were egging on, planning, participating in and covering up for the Greensboro massacre. And the same July 4th special Democratic convention issue of Workers Viewpoint dropped its regular editorial statement: “Only socialism can save America.” So, goodbye Marx and Lenin, hello Jesse and Fritz.

The liquidationism of the CWP reflects the broader disintegration of the American Maoist movement which began when Richard Nixon clinked glasses with Chou En-lai in Peking’s Great Hall of the Peoples as the U.S. imperialists were carpet-bombing Hanoi. The crisis within the Maoist groups increased with the deepening reactionary Washington/Peking alliance, marked by Chinese support for the South African invasion of Angola and China’s role as U.S. cat’s paw in the bloody 1979 invasion of Vietnam. With the onset of the Reagan years, the logic of the Maoists’ bloc with that most fanatical enemy of “Soviet (social) imperialism” was so devastating that the two largest U.S. Maoist groups gave up the ghost, the RCP’s Bob Avakian running off to Paris and CPML’s Mike Kionsky quitting.

The group around Jerry Tung, based in New York’s Chinatown, split from Progressive Labor in 1969, for hard Maoism against PL’s screwball Stalinism-without-a-country. Later on, calling themselves the Workers Viewpoint Organization, Tung’s group expanded South and managed to recruit black cadre moving leftward out of the nationalist milieu. Following their “Death to the Klan” confrontations in North Carolina and the tragic events in Greensboro, the CWP swung sharply to the right, looking for some “friendly” Democrat to give them cover. The Spartacist League responded to the Greensboro massacre with nationwide demonstrations. Since then the SL has carried out a number of important labor/black mobilizations in northern cities which have effectively interdicted the KKK from expanding out of their Southern bailiwick. Most notably, on 27 November 1982 in Washington, D.C., 5,000 predominantly black working people responded to our call to stop the KKK at the Capitol, while the CWP wandered haplessly between the Democratic Party windbags’ rally at McPherson Square and the SL-initiated Labor/Black Mobilization.

Closing down Workers Viewpoint is self-evidently a statement of political bankruptcy. The CWP’s letter to subscribers claimed that “we are looking forward to the start of something new.” Something new, something old–the popular front has been the main line of Stalinist liquidationism from FDR to Mondale. We don’t pretend to know what’s going on inside the CWP. But for a party with a revolutionary will, there will always be a core of comrades who find a way to get the paper out. Everyone from the tsarist censors to his leftist detractors tried to shut down Lenin’s Iskra, but he fought for the paper because it was the voice of the party. As Lenin wrote in What Is To Be Done? the paper must be the “scaffolding” for the construction of “the revolutionary organization that is ever ready to support every protest and every outbreak”; that it must be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator but also a collective organizer.

But of course, if you don’t want to build a communist party, an organization of professional revolutionaries, to support and lead every protest and every outbreak; if instead you’re working for Mondale and Ferraro... then who needs it? From the closing down of Workers Viewpoint, can the demise of the CWP be far behind?