Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Advanced Workers and Backward Opportunists

The question of what constitutes an advanced worker has been a subject of general discussion and debate in our movement for several years. This is an especially important question at this time since although it is generally recognized that the advanced workers must be drawn into active communist work, there is widespread confusion as to how this should be done and who, precisely, the advanced workers are. The various answers that are given reflect, not simply one’s views on a particular strata of the working class, but one’s understanding of the entire range of tasks before us, the content and purpose of our propaganda, the nature and class composition of a revolutionary Communist Party, the means by which that Party must be built, and so on. Of the various positions that have been taken, the Revolutionary Communist Party USA’s formulation is the most notorious since the RCP states that a worker may be considered to be ’advanced’ “...even if the individual professes some anti-communism.” (Red Papers #5 p.8). The RCP1s long-standing rival, the October League (ML), defines “the advanced” simply as anyone who comes to the OL’s activities. The Workers Viewpoint Organization views the political level of the advanced worker as “relative” and “historically conditioned by the level of fusion between the working class movement and the communist movement”. From this the WVO concludes that in the US at present, the advanced worker is only “open to socialism”. The Revolutionary Wing entirely liquidates the class content from the concept of the advanced worker, and substitutes instead the concept of “advanced element” or simply “the advanced”, The Wing and WVO in addition polemicize over whether the working class is shaped like a “pyramid” or a “football”, i.e., whether the majority of workers fall into the ’average’ or ’backward’ categories. Borrowing from the WVO (or vice versa, it is often hard to tell) the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee also holds that the advanced workers are only ’open to socialism’, and like the Wing it consistently substitutes “advanced elements from the national movements” for the advanced worker. More recent issues of Unite!, and in particular its sudden repudiation of its entire political line, indicate that the MLOC’s advanced worker has fallen by the wayside and is being replaced by the “militant worker”, i.e. a trade-unionist. And the Workers Congress (ML) summarily disposes of the whole matter with the profound observations that “Advanced has meaning only in relation to average and backward; by itself it has no independent meaning” and “In any situation there are advanced, intermediate and backward.”

These formulations are the ’ logical’. outcome of the intense theoretical confusion, opportunist striving, and isolation from the advanced workers that has characterized the “ML” movement from its inception. As shown by the answers they have produced, our “ML” opportunists have asked in bewilderment, “Who are the advanced workers?”, not in order to reach a scientific solution, but simply in order to reduce the concept of advanced worker to their own level. An advanced worker would be both amused and indignant at the arrogance of these pretentious people, who argue endlessly over the advanced worker, speculate about his existence, frantically search out someone to fuse with, but as yet have nothing whatsoever in the way of real political knowledge, real science, and real objective dedication to offer the working class. Without such knowledge and organizational skill, the call to “win the advanced!” is nothing but a stupid and harmful catchphrase. On the lips of our “ML” opportunists, it is a call to rally the most backward strata of the working class, and particularly the petty bourgeois new arrivals, to the side of the militant “ML” petty bourgeoisie.

In the final analysis the “ML”s great debate amounts to a mere tactical quibbling over shades of difference, for all the formulations on the advanced worker share a common ground. Despite claims to the contrary, none stand with Lenin’s definition of the advanced worker and all attempt by one or another means to justify its inapplicability undercurrent conditions. All attempt to lower the political level of the advanced worker and to replace him with a militant trade-unionist and reformist, or an ’advanced petty bourgeois’. The fact that they have found so many ways to express this testifies both to our “ML”s ’creativity’ and their determination to by any means necessary fulfill their p.b. aspirations at the expense of the working class.

The role of the advanced worker must be understood within the broad historical framework of the relationship between the communist and working class movements in every country. The two movements develop separately and side by side, each arising under different conditions. On the one hand, Marxism-Leninism is the product of a long development of science and philosophy and is at first understood and elaborated only by a small section of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois intelligentsia. Those few members of the educated classes who strive for a truly objective out -look and wholly abandon their own class standpoint form the basis of the communist movement. Capitalism constantly generates such individuals who if there is an existing Communist Party worthy of the name, take part in its work, and if no such Party exists, attempt immediately to build one. The working class movement, on the other hand, arises from the spontaneous, defensive struggle of the workers against their employers. This spontaneous resistance of the workers is incapable of resolving the fundamental causes of the workers’ misery and exploitation, since although the workers can bargain with the capitalists over wages, they cannot bargain away the wage-slave system. To uphold its own class interests, the working class must not simply resist the employers, but overthrow them and smash the political power on which the capitalists’ rule is based. Only the struggle for political power, for the breaking up of the old system and its replacement with socialism can fulfill the workers’ highest interests. It is precisely the task of the communist movement to bring the working class the political knowledge and skill necessary to organization, and to thus create a truly class conscious and revolutionary communist workers movement.

Only when the communist and working class movements become fused into one indestructible whole, a communist workers’ Party, can a conscious class struggle for the emancipation of the working class be waged. This can occur only when a principled centre emerges from the communist movement, takes the enlightenment of advanced science to the working class, ruthlessly exposes the p.b. opportunist lines which attempt to dominate and divert the movement, and rallies the principled elements around its leadership. This leading centre is composed of individuals who have wholly abandoned their petty bourgeois strivings, have mastered the science of Marxism-Leninism, and can provide a guiding line for the workers class struggle. These finest elements of the communist movement in turn attract and organize the finest elements from the workers’ movement. The advanced workers, who arise primarily from the urban, industrial proletariat, are the most disciplined, dedicated and enlightened representatives of the working class. They are respected leaders of the economic struggle who can see beyond the narrow limits of trade unionism, who accept socialism consciously and strive for a scientific understanding of the class struggle, for a clear comprehension of the tasks which must be fulfilled in order to lead the class forward. !n writing of this working class intelligentsia, Lenin stated that “...an impassioned desire for knowledge and for socialism is growing among the workers, real heroes are coming to the fore from amongst the workers, who, despite their wretched living conditions, despite the stultifying penal servitude of factory labor, possess so much character and will-power that they study, study, study, and turn themselves into conscious (communists)– ’the working class intelligentsia’...”(Collected Works Vol. 4 p.280).

The advanced workers are drawn to the leading centre of the communist movement in response to propaganda which accurately reflects their broad class interests, which provides the workers with a comprehensive, integral understanding of the various classes and strata within society and their respective interests, which thoroughly and consistently exposes all manifestations of bourgeois ideology in the working class and communist movements, defines the tasks and points out the line of march. The Communist Party, as the highest form of organization of the proletarian struggle, is the embodiment of this convergence of the vanguard of the communist movement with the vanguard of the proletariat. The advanced workers anchor the communist party firmly in the working class, introducing the ideas of the class struggle, communism and the political tasks of the proletariat to the more backward strata, and drawing ever wider sections under the leadership of the Party.

In A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy Lenin elaborated the high standards of the advanced workers for the express purpose of exposing Economism, a political trend which catered to the average and backward workers, reflected the more restricted and narrow outlooks of these strata, and thus restricted and narrowed the tasks of communists to simple trade unionism. Lenin repeatedly emphasized that propaganda must be at the level of the advanced workers, and must not adapt itself to the lower consciousness of the average and backward strata. All the formulations on the advanced worker current among the dominant “ML” organizations in one way or another commit the same error of the Russian Economists: they, lower the political level of the advanced worker, thereby lowering the level of their propaganda (or justifying the already low level), thereby reducing communist work to militant trade unionism and reformism, thereby converting the communist Party into a reformist, trade unionist party, and thus liquidating the class independence of the proletariat. It is thus clear that an organization’s view of the advanced worker is integrally bound up with its conception of the Party and the tasks before the communist movement. Lenin states that “...The ignoring of the interests and requirements of this advanced section of the work-e’5, and the desire to descend to the level of understanding of the lower strata (instead of constantly raising the level of the workers’ class consciousness) must, therefore, necessarily have a profoundly harmful effect and prepare the ground for the infiltration of all sorts of non-socialist and non-revolutionary ideas into the workers’ midst...”(CW Vol 4 p.292).

The classic opportunist error of reducing the political consciousness of the advanced worker to the level of a militant trade unionist or reformist is committed by the RCP USA, OL, WVO and others, each with a slightly different variation on the same theme. The RCP states that “To us the advanced worker is one who has the respect of fellow workers, to whom they come when they are in trouble and need to discuss their problems, whom they rally around when they face a collective problem, and who provides leadership in struggle. And this is true even if the individual professes some anti-communism...”{Red Papers 5 p.7-8). Here we have an ’all-round good guy’, a well-intended trade unionist completely lacking in class consciousness, a description of the ’advanced worker’ which does not go beyond Lenin’s definition of the backward worker! This view of the ’advanced’ worker epitomizes the RCP1s contemptuous attitude towards the entire working class, since if the most ’advanced’ workers are ’mildly anti-communist’, the lower strata of the working class must be on the brink of fascism. And this is precisely the approach the RCP takes in all aspects of its work: its attempt to restrict the workers’ activity to purely trade unionist demands; its occasional doses of ’politics’ at special events (a la the “Battle of the Bicentennial”); its attempt to rally the workers behind every failed businessman or ousted student with a grudge against ’the system’; its liberal use of childish metaphor and vulgarity in its propaganda; and so on. Such a brazen and slanderous view of the advanced worker only shows, as the RCP demonstrates monthly, that even those who claim to be Marxist-Leninists may “profess some anti-communism”.

The October League’s formulation is even ’looser’ than that of the RCP, for the OL’s ’advanced’ worker need not be a trade unionist, a nice guy, nor even a worker, but can in fact be anybody and his dog who might happen to show their faces at an OL event. A leading OL cadre reportedly said “...We don’t know who the advanced are; we don’t have a position on the difference between the advanced and intermediate. We just put out the call to an activity, and whoever comes must be the advanced, so we work with them...” (quoted in Palante Vol 6 #3 1976 p. 12). With the classic egocentricity of the petty bourgeois, who is convinced that the world revolves around himself, the OL defines “the advanced” entirely in terms of its own ’holy’ organization. Whoever answers “the call”, comes to the center of the universe and sits at the knee of the OL “must be the advanced”. Como no? This simplifies the OL’s tasks to the 11th degree, since “propaganda at the level of the advanced” then equals whatever propaganda the OL chooses, “winning the advanced” is accomplished by the attendance at OL functions, and “fusion” is performed simply by holding ’events’ at regular intervals.

The WVO has approached the problem of the advanced worker with a “humble attitude” and a “philosophical mind”, and so appeals not to anti-communism or ’the call’, but to the theory of relativity. In the WVO’s view, the criteria for the advanced worker are “relative” to the concrete conditions in a given country at a given time, or “historically conditioned by the level of fusion”. The WVO waxes indignant over those doctrinaires who have “...dogmatically imposed Lenin’s description of an advanced worker in 1899 in Russia to today’s situation without taking Into account the difference in development of both the working class and communist movement as well as the state of fusion.”(WVO Journal Vol 2 #2 p2). According to the WVO’s convoluted logic, Lenin wrote his definition of the advanced worker after fusion had already been accomplished in Russia; therefore, Lenin’s definition is applicable only under post-fusion conditions in a given country. Since we obviously have not attained fusion in the US, it follows that the present political level of American advanced workers is lower than Lenin’s description of Russian advanced workers in 1899. Hence, concludes the WVO, even though Lenin specified that advanced workers must “accept socialism consciously”, advanced workers in the US today are merely “open to socialism”. To support this weighty assertion, the WVO quotes a passage by Lenin which describes the convergence of the spontaneous workers movement and the Social-Democratic movement as it took place in Russia during the 1890’s and which states “...Those advanced workers were Social-Democrats(communists)”(CW Vol 4 p.260). Now obviously, presumes the WVO, since we cannot say that advanced workers in the US today are already communists, we must throw the Leninist formulation out the back door.

The WVO thus renders more profound the commonplace that after fusion has been accomplished, the advanced workers, who hitherto were striving for class consciousness, actually become fully class conscious communist workers. But only the most dull-witted simpletons or die-hard opportunists could conclude from this that prior to fusion the advanced workers as Lenin described them do not exist, that his criteria for the advanced workers must be lowered to ’the relatively most advanced in the US’, those workers who are only “open to socialism”, a formulation roughly equivalent to Lenin’s definition of average workers.

As stated in A Retrograde Trend, Lenin was describing levels of class consciousness which exist within the proletariat of any country, albeit in varying proportions. Lenin writes, “...The history of the working class movement in all countries shows that the better-situated strata of the working class respond to the ideas of socialism more rapidly and more easily. From these come, in the main, the advanced workers that every working class movement brings to the fore, those who can win the confidence of the laboring masses, who devote themselves entirely to the education and organization of the proletariat, who accept socialism consciously, and who even elaborate independent socialist theories. Every viable working class movement has brought to the fore such working class* leaders, its own Proudhons,’Vaillants, Weitlings, and Bebels...” (none of whom are Russian, by the way) “...And our Russian working class movement promises not to lag behind the European movement in this respect..” (CW Vol 4 p.280; emphasis ours). it is worth noting here that when the WVO quotes from this passage, they conveniently omit Lenin’s references to “every working class movement”, “in all countries” (see WVO Journal Vol 2 1 5-75 p.36).

If one were attempting to learn from Lenin rather than to revise him it would be quite clear from Lenin’s description that the existence of advanced workers is not a relative phenomenon, is not dependent upon the existence of a communist movement nor upon the degree of fusion. The advanced workers are the product of the objective development of capital ism in all countries and are brought forward by the spontaneous workers’ struggle against capital. It is not a matter of conducting a sociological survey of the attitudes of the workers in each separate country, determining the average composite of attitudes denoting ’average’ consciousness, counting one standard deviation above and below the mean to demarcate the advanced and backward workers from the majority who fall in the middle. But this is apparently what the WVO is leading to with its ludicrous statement that “...In our view, the general proportions of the advanced, middle and backward among the working class is shaped like a football. This is a dialectical view that sees two extremes with the majority in the middle which will be won over to the proletarian revolution. At one end is a small stratum of the advanced workers, and at the other end, a small stratum of the backward workers. The vast majority of workers are in the middle. . .”(WVO Journal 4 Vol 2 p. 6). One more example of how vulgar ’dialectics’ is used to hide a multitude of sins in our movement.

By such opportunist foolishness, the WVO has inadvertently revealed its own ’proportions’, i.e. ’shaped somewhat like a vegetable’, and its determination to kick around the working class until it has reduced the entire class to its own moronic level. To accomplish this the WVO deems It necessary to lower the level of the backward strata of workers as well. Lenin views this strata as being limited to the trade union struggle, unable to identify with the aims of the political struggle for so backward workers will remain alienated from the communist movement until different forms of agitation and propaganda are directed towards them. To the WVO, however, the backward workers are “...thoroughly entrenched with the old world outlook and cannot see beyond their own individualistic self interests.” Some backward workers, says the WVO, “...turn to the most reactionary ideas and organizations like JDL, American Legion and the chauvinist, fascist KKK...” while others are consolidated liberals and social-democrats who maintain “...illusions about bourgeois democracy...”. The WVO says nothing about the real origin of reactionary ideas in the working class, namely, the petty bourgeois new arrivals and the influence of the labor aristocracy, and treats such traditionally petty bourgeois-based organizations as the American Legion, JDL, KKK, etc. as innate to the working class. WVO even goes so far as to say “...Good examples of a couple of backward workers are the TV characters promoted and glorified by the bourgeoisie, like Archie Bunker...and Tom Hartman ...”. The WVO’s ’dialectics’ evidently includes tailing after the bourgeoisie’s media-definition of backward workers.

In sum, the WVO’s ’theory of relativity of the advanced workers’ is nothing but base Economism. If the existence of the Leninist advanced workers, workers who “accept socialism consciously”, is denied, and workers who are vaguely “open to socialism” are accorded the honor of ’relatively most advanced in the US1, it follows that the tasks of the ’communist’ movement are considerably lowered. For the WVO plainly states that we must above all distinguish between the “...advanced workers as we find them in the factories and mills before communists have worked and studied with them...” and “...the political and ideological level they are able to achieve after studying and struggling together with communists...”(all quotes from WVO Journal #4). Since the “advanced workers as we find them” cannot yet grasp socialism consciously, it will undoubtedly be necessary to first introduce them to something they can readily grasp, something with which they are already intimately familiar, that is, the trade union, economic struggle. The WVO does not draw this Economist conclusion so bluntly, but that is the sum and substance of its practical activity (for example, its work during the New York City crisis, and more recently, its advocacy of trade unionist politics among the oil workers). This is simply a modern rendition of the “stages theory”, the classic Economist line which holds that the workers must first be educated in the trade union struggle before they can become ’ripe’ for the political struggle for socialism. By painting the working class in such dismal hues, in the image of the petty bourgeoisie (which is indeed not quite ripe for socialism), our latter-day Economists are able to justify their own hopeless reformism. Speaking against this same tendency, Lenin wrote that the communist movement “...has everywhere and always been, and cannot but be the representative of the cl ass- conscious, and not of the non-class-conscious, workers and that there cannot be anything more dangerous and more criminal than the demagogic speculation on the underdevelopment of the workers...”(CW Vol 5 p.291).

To lower the level of the advanced workers is to lower the level of communist work in all areas, is to reduce the tasks of communists to militant trade unionism and reformism, and to turn Party-building into a program of petty bourgeois Social-Democracy. The advanced workers “always and everywhere determine the character of the movement” as Lenin quite clearly stated, and constitute the backbone of the Party. It should be obvious that if something less than Lenin’s high standards for the advanced worker is accepted, the door will be left open for all sorts of reformists and trade unionists, resulting in the accommodation of bourgeois outlook and striving in the proletarian Party. And this is exactly what the WVO intends, for, like the MLOC and Revolutionary Wing, the WVO continually substitutes the term “advanced elements” for advanced workers and includes under this heading: first, ’advanced’ students active in the anti-imperialist and anti-cut-back struggles; ’advanced’ Black and Puerto Rican nationalists (most notably Malcolm X); and of course, advanced workers who are “open to socialism”. The WVO ventures further to say that the “...advanced elements in the last few years came mainly from (the former) two sources...” and that therefore “...there is not a sizable cadre pool of advanced workers. Why? Because the immediate past movements were not movements of the working class as a whole. They were movements among the most conscious sector of the population..”(Conscious? Of what!?) “...–the oppressed nationalities, and students, youths, and revolutionary intellectuals. Concretely this means that we are building a party that would be composed mainly of advanced elements from all backgrounds in addition to advanced workers.. .” (WVO Journal Vol 2 #2 p.36). “Concretely this means” that the WVO is building a party composed mainly of ’advanced elements’ from movements which were entirely petty bourgeois in their character, ’advanced elements’ who accept Marxism-Leninism in name, but fail to admit to the p.b. class basis of the student and national movements of the 196O’s, regarding these movements as “revolutionary”, as “in essence” “class struggles for the overthrow of monopoly capitalism... ”(WVO Vol. l, #1 March 1976). “Concretely this means” that the WVO is building a party firmly rooted in the p.b., a party “composed mainly of these advanced elements” from the “sizable cadre pool” of declassed petty bourgeois. “Concretely this means” the complete liquidation of the party of the proletariat as the embodiment of the fusion of the communist movement and the advanced representatives of the working class, the liquidation of a party composed overwhelmingly of advanced workers, whose organizational basis is the factory nucleus, the liquidation of a party which ruthlessly exposes and eliminates those ’anti-monopoly’ representatives of the petty bourgeoisie who inevitably filter into its ranks. The astounding and mysterious feature of all this is that the WVO bothers to regard itself as being Marxist-Leninist at all.

Like the WVO, the self-proclaimed “Revolutionary Wing of the movement”–formerly the Revolutionary Workers League and the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization–also groups all and sundry under the heading of “advanced elements” and interchanges this term with “advanced worker”. And like the MLOC, the Wing’s main objective is the “mutation” of the advanced worker into an ’advanced’ p.b. nationalist. Although the RWL proudly boasts of its frequent “mutations” in the pages of the Bolshevik, this is the one they don’t fess up to. The Wing swears up and down that “...We hold to the essence of the definition of advanced elements as Lenin described them in A Retrograde Trend in Russian Social-Democracy although we realize that the conditions are not exactly the same...”. Apparently these ’changed conditions’ are such that advanced workers are no longer workers, for in writing of the first period of Party-building, as the Wing sees it, they state that “...Advanced elements were coming forward in the struggle, thirsty for knowledge that explained the deep causes and effects of this system and how to change it, searching for scientific answers only to find a mishmosh of literature... Advanced elements were studying, studying hard, trying to turn themselves into class conscious elements, and even elaborating independent socialist theories – e.g. the BPP 10-point Program, HRUM’s 10-point Health Program, YLP’s 13-point Program, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers’ Program, the BWC Manifesto. But these were not scientific socialist theories. This theory can only be brought from without the spontaneous struggle, interjected by the class conscious element...” (PRRWO: Party Building in the Heat of the Class Struggle p.28). Clearly the Wing is attempting to include an assortment of nationalists, petty bourgeois and lumpen ’revolutionaries’ within the category of “advanced elements”, according to what it views as “the essence” of Lenin’s definition. Furthermore, the list of organizations which produced “advanced elements” and “elaborated independent socialist theories” are ’coincidentally’ the same organizations which the PRRWO and RWL cadre were once part of or at least in close agreement with. The PRRWO’s organizational roots lie in the Young Lord’s Party, a Puerto Rican nationalist organization composed of p.b. lumpen and student elements. The RWL was founded by black student nationalists with close ideological kinship to the Black Panther Party, the Congress of Afrikan People, and Black Student Union. We can only conclude that when the Wing speaks of the development of “advanced elements” who ’came forward in struggle’ and so on, they are speaking of their own ’precious’ selves. Lenin, it seems, was talking “in essence” of our ’advanced’ opportunists themselves!

The first question which comes to mind after this startling revelation is, why is the Wing so intent on playing the role of advanced workers in the Party-building process? According to the Leninist conception of fusion, those elements from predominantly petty bourgeois organizations and backgrounds who have taken up Marxism-Leninism are known as the communist intelligentsia, and not as advanced workers. For, needless to say, the most essential requirement for an advanced worker is that he be a worker, a product of the spontaneous workers’ movement. And if he elaborates independent socialist theory, however unscientific or Utopian, it is obvious and essential that such a socialist outlook is based upon the worker’s experience in the working class and reflects proletarian aspirations. The programs of the BPP, YLP, BWC and so on, on the other hand, were petty bourgeois theories, reflected petty bourgeois aspirations, and proposed reforms of imperialism from the standpoint of narrow p.b. strivings. Those organizations and the general movement they participated in were not working class in composition, direction or in the interests they sought to advance. Just the opposite. These programs based themselves on the color line, on narrow nationalist striving, on the “lumpen as vanguard”, on “power to the people” (i.e. to the p.b.). If they sought to rally a section of the working class at all, as did the League, it was from the standpoint of Economism, p.b. reformism, and petty nationalism. As the entire history of the 1960’s movement shows, these organizations, in addition to the various antiwar, feminist and student sections, were not at all ’advanced’, were not at all ’conscious’, but represented what Lenin described as the “petty bourgeois-democratic opposition to imperialism” which is “really reactionary in its economic basis” and which the working class must oppose. (CW Vol 22 p.287). Instead of breaking with this heritage, the Wing glorifies it, and is thus able in the process to maintain its narrow p.b. ambitions under the flattering title of “the advanced”.

As to the Wing’s reluctance to include itself in the category of ’communist intelligentsia’, after reading issues of Palante in recent months we must thoroughly agree. The authors of a newspaper which exhibits such functional illiteracy, such gross vulgarity, such stupid phrase-mongering and unprecedented opportunism, can in no way be considered ’intelligentsia’, let alone communist. For a primary requirement of the revolutionary intelligentsia is that they be intelligent, be capable of rational thought, have real scientific political knowledge and skills to bring to the working class, and the Wing has absolutely nothing of the kind to offer.

For further evidence of the Wing’s blatant p.b. nationalism we must return to “...the first period of party building...”. The Wing states that “...Organizations like the Young Lord’s Party, Black Panther Party, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, reflected advanced elements from the working class and national movements. Organizations like SDS were progressive, but were composed of progressive elements of the petty bourgeoisie, providing a fertile ground for opportunists. The former, however, were part of a developing motion to grasp Marxism-Leninism and although they too were plagued by eclecticism, they did put forward independent socialist theories. These could not yet be scientific socialist theories because this understanding only comes through the study of socialism as a science. SDS, on the other hand, reflected a motion bound to split up and move away from Marxism-Leninism..,” (PRRWO: Party Building in the Heat of the Class Struggle p.85-86). Black and Puerto Rican organizations of the 196O’s, you see, being drawn from the national movements, were destined to become ML; whereas the predominantly white SDS was not. By this means the Wing attempts to ’prove’ that its own “US Bolshevik Party” is genuine, whereas the RCP USA and OL (both of which developed from SDS) are not. Thus the movement has split into “genuine and sham”, in the Wing’s view, along the color line. Our petty national chauvinists ’overlook’ the fact that “from the national movements” means precisely from the petty bourgeoisie, since the p.b. was the main force and inspiration of all the nationality-based organizations of the i9601s. This is also true of those, like the BWC, which directed their propaganda to specific national strata of the working class, i.e. to rally Black workers around nationalist and reformist programs. Such organizations were not “from the working class”, but appealed to the p.b. new arrivals in the working class who responded most readily to chauvinist and p.b. nationalist propaganda. The Wing must stoop to such stupidities since, being unable to justify itself according to Marxist-Leninist principles, it must appeal to narrow prejudice.

What do the ’oppressed peoples’ of the Revolutionary Wing hope to achieve by means of this “mishmosh” of gross aberrations, all in the name of Marxism-Leninism and the “party building motion”? There is a method to their madness, after all, for their peculiar adulteration of the advanced worker serves several distinct purposes. First, by substituting “advanced elements from the national movements” for the advanced workers, the Wing can pretend that fusion has already been accomplished and declare itself the “US Bolshevik Party”, proudly following in the footsteps of the RCP and OL. However, unlike the RCP and OL, the Wing would not dream of declaring themselves the party of the proletariat before having formally achieved ’fusion with the advanced workers’ (or at least “elements”), for Lenin stated in no uncertain terms that fusion is a precondition to formation of the Party, and the Wing has ’no desire1 to cross Lenin. Our “Bolsheviks” therefore boldly assert without a trace of embarrassment that ’fusion’ has indeed taken place, i.e. they have ’fused’ with themselves. We are told that “...The OL fails to understand that there has been fusion between the two great movements of socialism and the working class, that these two movements strive towards one another, and the advanced workers are the key connectors between the two. The opportunist wing cannot understand that the League of Revolutionary Black Workers developed and spread spontaneously, maintained contact with hundreds of advanced elements across the country. They ignore the fact that the League, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, HRUM, SNCC and SDS, the Young Lord’s Party, ALSC all developed from the mass movements at the initiation of advanced elements in those movements, fought opportunism of all shades and descriptions, and sought out MLMTTT as it proved most successful in solving the practical problems presented by these movements. in fact, as Lenin said, they ’turned themselves into Social-Democrats (communists)’.” (Palante Vol 6 #3 1976 p. 12). So the petty bourgeois and lumpen nationalists of the 1960’s have ’fused’ with the very same petty bourgeois lumpen nationalists of the 1970’s and have already issued the call, “Forward to the Party Congress”. Thus we can look forward to one more self-proclaimed “ML” party, side by side with the others, each representing a fraction of the declassed petty bourgeoisie. Our new “US Bolshevik Party” will be differentiated from the others only in that they have chosen a more brazen form of narrow nationalism as a means to express and advance their p.b. interests.

A second purpose our new ’Bolsheviks’ are seeking to fulfill under the heading of “advanced elements” is to cover up their own opportunist histories and p.b. line. Rather than being forced to repudiate an embarrassing past (their history in the YLP, YOBU, BWC & etc, the “lumpen as vanguard”, unforgettable statements like ’Marx was a racist white boy’, the near mergers with the CLP and RU, and so on) the cadre of the Wing need only claim that they were “advanced elements” under incorrect leadership, struggling to “turn themselves into communists”. Rather than serving as a source of shame, a stain on their political reputations, a badge of infamy, this disgraceful political history is transformed into a proud heritage, the “first period of party bui1ding”, when the ’advanced elements’ overcame the “eclecticist” deviation.

Our “advanced elements” were and remain p.b. narrow nationalists, representatives of specific strata of the p.b. as a whole who have attempted to transform their national identity into ’palpable results’ by way of the working class. The “advanced elements” who ’came forward’ in the national movements and now claim to have turned themselves into communists are in fact frustrated petty bourgeois who try to hide behind the authority of Marxism-Leninism and still sell their p.b. nationalist wares. This is clearly shown by the wealth of nationalist positions maintained not only by the Wing, but by the majority of “ML” organizations. These all, by one or another means, attempt to harmonize the interests of the p.b. with those of the working class and thus to rally a section of the workers behind them. If our “advanced elements” attempt to completely gloss over class lines within the national movements and liquidate the conditions on which a principled alliance with the proletariat can be built, it is simply in order to obscure their own class origins and propagate their narrow striving in the working class.

With the advanced worker out of the way, and his place taken by our “elements”, the Wing is able to accomplish what all our “ML” opportunists aspire to: to fulfill those persistent p.b. ambitions that the p.b. is incapable of fulfilling on its own. By pointing the finger at the RCP and OL, and asserting that the Wing alone has “advanced elements” it is attempting to conceal the obvious fact that, to use the PRRWO’s own earthy language, our ’Bolsheviks’ are “...forebearers of the petty bourgeois groupings who penetrated the party building motion and snuck (sic!) into the growing anti-revisionist movement...” (Party Building in the Heat of the Class Struggle p.7). in fact, the Wing did not even need to ’sneak’ into the “growing anti-revisionist movement”; it blended in perfectly with the general “ML” population.

What is essential to an understanding of the process of fusion is that the communist and working class movements develop separately, independently, and are initially composed of individuals from separate classes. In the beginning, the communist movement is populated by a handful of elements from the bourgeois and petty bourgeois intelligentsia “...who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole...”(Manifesto), and make the conscious decision to stand with the proletariat as the most revolutionary class in modern history. These members of the communist intelligentsia introduce scientific socialist theory to the working class intelligentsia –the advanced workers–, who in turn introduce it to the working class movement. But the very fact that communism is introduced to the working class from the outside, by former members of the propertied classes, also lays the basis for the introduction of various petty bourgeois deviations into the working class and communist movements. For not all those who attach themselves to the communist movement and claim to serve the working class have actually “...abandoned their own class standpoint and placed themselves at that of the proletariat...” (Manifesto). The developing communist movement must therefore devote a considerable portion of its energy struggling against those elements who attempt to use the movement as an outlet for their own narrow interests. The CLP, RCP, OL, WVO, MLOC, Revolutionary Wing, and others represent just such elements, and are convinced that they alone represent the workers’ true interests. As Lenin wrote of this opportunist phenomenon, “... it is said that history is fond of irony, of playing tricks with people, and mystifying them. In history this constantly happens to individuals, groups and trends that do not realize what they really stand for, i.e. fail to understand which class they really (and not in their imagination) gravitate towards. Whether this lack of understanding is genuine or hypocritical is a question that might interest the biographer of a particular individual, but to the student of politics this question is of secondary importance, to say the least. The important thing is how history and politics expose groups and trends and reveal the bourgeois nature concealed behind their ’pseudo-socialist’ or ’pseudo-Marxist’ phraseology.. .”(CW Vol 20 p.456). Our “ML” opportunists, despite their ’good intentions’ towards the working class, are gravitating towards the bourgeoisie. And the fact that they are moving in that direction with ’socialist’ phrases reveals their real intentions vis-a-vis the proletariat.

These persistently p.b. elements express the duality of interests which characterizes their class as a whole. On the one hand, the petty bourgeoisie spontaneously resists monopoly capital since it continually undercuts the independent existence of the petty proprietors and professionals. On the other hand, the petty bourgeoisie al so spontaneously struggles against the working class movement, for if the proletariat were to achieve its ultimate aim, this would mean the extinction of the petty bourgeoisie and its integration into productive labor. Thus, those who bring their petty bourgeois standpoint into the communist and working class movements, by one or another means formulate political lines which express the petty bourgeoisie’s ’call of duty’ to hold back or divert the working class from its historic task and thus preserve the rapidly crumbling position of the petty bourgeoisie as an independent class in society. “...It is the representatives of the petty bourgeoisie who are here presenting themselves, full of anxiety that the proletariat under the pressure of its revolutionary position may ’go too far’ ...”(Marx-Engels Circular Letter SW Vol III p.91). The p.b. opportunists attempt, on the one hand, to rally the workers behind a purely petty bourgeois, reformist and essentially reactionary ’anti-monopoly’ and ’anti-imperialist1 struggle, to which they give militant and ’socialist’ phrases; and on the other hand, attempt to divert the working class from its own proletarian class struggle.

The various formulations on the advanced worker that have been put forward by the opportunist “ML” organizations are classic examples of the ’ML in form, p.b. in content’ political lines which are intended to secure p.b. leadership over the workers’ movement. By reducing the advanced worker to the level of a trade unionist or reformist, our p.b. opportunists attempt to limit the entire working class movement to trade unionism and reformism. By including “advanced students” or any and every “advanced element” from the p.b. struggles in their definition of “the advanced”, they strive to convert the working class movement into an appendage of the reactionary, petty bourgeois ’anti-monopoly’ struggles. And by “mutating” the advanced worker into an “advanced element from the national movements”, they seek to justify or conceal the injection of p.b. nationalism into the working class and communist movements. To degrade the role of the vanguard of the proletariat, to lower the high standards of the advanced worker in any way, and to thereby cater to the more backward strata of the proletariat, is tantamount to the liquidation of the proletarian Party and its replacement with a Social-Democratic one. Such are the practical consequences of the political line of our ’advanced’ opportunists.

Fortunately, those few workers which these opportunist organizations have been able to attract are their own kith and kin, p.b. new arrivals to the working class. The stable elements among the workers could only be repelled by the arrogant and vulgar catch-phrases that are the sum and substance of our opportunists’ ’activity’. In fact, the real burning question of the day which the advanced workers must be asking themselves is, Where are the advanced communists? Where is the revolutionary intelligentsia which will bring the working class true scientific knowledge, and not petty vulgarisms, stupid formulas and pretentious sloganeering? Where are the communists worthy of the name, who will leave behind their narrow and petty strivings and come over fully to Marxism-Leninism? Where are the communist theoreticians who will take up the momentous task of exposing and reversing the tide of opportunism which has dominated and discredited the international communist movement for the past 40 years? Where are the communists of the highest calibre who will reconstruct the international working class movement and set it firmly on the path of proletarian revolution? Indeed, these are questions which all communists should be asking themselves, and be determined to resolve.