Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Union

Red Papers 4

The R. U. Leadership

Proletarian ideology, Proletarian Revolution

This presentation will be divided into five sections. The first, a general introduction on the importance of proletarian ideology, and especially of dialectical and historical materialism, and its application to (lie present period of history when capitalism, in its highest and final stage, imperialism, is being overthrown in country after country, and being replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism. Then, with this as background, we will examine the four train questions that have been raised in the current ideological struggle: (1) the United Front under proletarian leadership; (2) the National Question within the United States and its relation to proletarian revolution; (3) fascism, what it is and how to fight it; and (4) the military strategy that flows from our analysis of the previous questions.


In the course of our present ideological struggle, it has become painfully obvious that ideological and political primitiveness are defining characteristics of our organization. It is not only a question of uneveness in political and ideological development, but up until now at least, also a question of commitment to Marxism-Leninism” Mao Tse-tung Thought as the science of revolution. During the present struggle there has been a tendency for comrades to rely on emotion, rather than on science, and on the part of many of our former comrades, a marked tendency to make a principle of ignorance of Marxism-Leninism. The behavior of some of the leaders of the recent split calls to mind a remark by Mark Twain: what you need to get along in this country is the perfect combination of ignorance and arrogance!

But almost all of us, even the most honest and most dedicated to proletarian revolution are very new to the Communist movement. We have become communists, are trying to develop ourselves as a communist organization in a period when the revolutionary struggle of the working class in this country and within all the imperialist and capitalist countries has been temporarily retarded; when the only American party with international connections and connections to the history of the American workers’ movement is completely revisionist.

We have been cut off from the world communist movement and from the historical experience of the proletariat in this country and throughout the world. In addition, many of us have only recently broken away from the bourgeoisie or petty-bourgeoisie and are still carrying much of the baggage of our class origins. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that we are theoretically underdeveloped, that we find it difficult to grasp proletarian ideology, that we are generally ignorant of most of Marxism-Leninism.

It is understandable, but it is absolutely inexcusable to make a principle of our ignorance and primitiveness. We must grasp the fact that Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse-tung Thought is the foundation on which we must base all of our practical work, and without which our work is bound to fall apart. Marxist Theory, unlike bourgeois theory, or the theory developed by any other exploiting class, is based on the practical struggles of the masses of people. It is the crystallization, the concentrated summing up, of more than 150 years of class struggle by the proletariat-and thousands of years of struggle by other oppressed and exploited classes.

At this stage in our development, the 150 years or more of class struggle of the proletariat, as summed up by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao is more important than the few years of practical work of our own organization and other infant revolutionary organizations in this country which are still mainly isolated from the workers. Of course, our practice, which flows from Marxist-Leninist principles, should, over a long period, lead to a further development of them. But as we have seen in this struggle, that has not uniformly been the case, and even when a serious attempt has been made to base ourselves on Marxism-Leninism, our practice remains scattered, poorly summed up experience, exactly because of our low level of theory, our primitive ability to use Marxism-Leninism as a guide in summing up and advancing the struggles of the people.

The opportunists who recently split the organization did a lot of damage by making a fetish of our own “practice,” by refusing to learn from the history of the world communist movement, which has resolved many of the contradictions we encounter in our own work, and has laid the basis for resolving many of the genuinely new contradictions that arise in the development of class struggle. Because of the low level of development of the entire organization, these opportunists were able to play on peoples’ emotions – which are the only thing people have to fall back on when they don’t have the scientific tools to deal with the contradictions scientifically.

The major responsibility for the low level of development of the organization, however, does not rest on these dishonest manipulators – even though they were leaders of our organization – but on those of us in leadership who are committed to proletarian revolution, who do understand the importance of Marxism-Leninism, but have not made a thorough and consistent enough effort to grasp and apply it ourselves, and have certainly been unsystematic in our approach to developing the entire organization, both theoretically and practically. We must all learn from our mistakes and get down to the crucial task of mastering the science of Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse-tung Thought.

Why is it so important to be “ruthlessly scientific” – to use a slogan that has itself generated a lot of emotion during this struggle? Because the development of society is determined by objective laws, by the continual struggle of opposing forces – by contradictions – which set the stage for revolutionary struggle. Without understanding these laws – which exist independently of man’s will – we cannot play a role in resolving the contradictions of society in a progressive direction, in the direction of proletarian revolution, to move human society toward socialism and communism.

Dialectical materialism is based on the fact that in nature things are constantly changing and transforming themselves through the struggle of opposites (contradictions). Historical materialism is dialectical materialism applied to human society, which, in any of its forms, is the organized struggle of people to overcome nature-to struggle against disease, floods, and other “natural disasters” and to rip raw materials out of the earth and process them to meet the needs of the people. Until after society develops the science and technology to the point that everyone’s basic needs can be met, throughout the world, class society cannot be completely eliminated.

But even at this point, mankind cannot achieve the stage of communism until au of the institutions of society and the consciousness of the people have completely shed the defects of capitalist society, have made cooperation the “natural” relationship between all people in society, and have enabled science and technology to continuously develop, without class or institutional fetters. Only at this point can we conceive of human society controlling and determining the development of nature, in a thoroughgoing way, and not the reverse.

In pre-Communist society Marxism describes the struggle against nature as the struggle to move from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom – from the realm where we are reacting to nature, to the realm where we are dominating nature. Or, as Marx and Engels also point out, pre-Communist struggle involves the “negation of the negation,” the battle by man to eliminate the limitations that nature imposes on human life. Since society is the organized struggle against nature, the laws of society – historical materialism – are an extension of the laws of nature – dialectical materialism.

Without being “ruthlessly scientific,” without basing ourselves on dialectical and historical materialism, how could we understand Engel’s statement that, compared to primitive communalism, slavery was progressive! Only by making a material end historical analysis, using the method of dialectics, could we understand that, on the one hand, primitive communalism was a form of classless society, without exportation; but, more importantly, it was characterized by a very low level of productive forces, of science and technology, resulting in conditions of extreme poverty, disease and widespread suffering.

Slavery, while it introduced exploitation, also represented a new level of development of the productive forces and brought human society one step further along the road toward Communism, where we can completely conquer poverty, disease and similar human suffering. Only from this standpoint can we understand the truth of Engels’ statement. Without dialectical materialism, our emotional response would be to want to resurrect Engels so we could shoot him for saying that slavery was progressive in any way! Without applying dialectical and historical materialism, how could we understand the statement in the “Communist Manifesto” that early capitalism, in its struggle against feudalism, plays a very progressive part in human history?

Without the science of Marxism-Leninism, it would be impossible to understand not only the reasons for the development of capitalism and the progressive aspects of this development, but also the reasons why capitalism in its highest stage, imperialism, can no longer play a progressive role and must be replaced by socialism. If we cannot really understand these laws, we can’t explain them to the masses of working people and other oppressed people, we cannot enable them to grasp and apply the ideas that are absolutely necessary for their liberation.

What we must grasp is the method of dialectical and historical materialism, the understanding that everything develops through the struggle of opposites-contradictions- keeping in mind Lenin’s summation: “the living soul of Marxism is the concrete analysis of concrete conditions.” In mastering Marxism-Leninism we must avoid the twin errors of dogmatism and empiricism. For example, on the way to this meeting, the people in the car did not carefully follow the street-map, and we went by one of the turn-offs. After we recognized our mistake and turned around, the right turn indicated on the map was now a left turn in reality. We would have been hopelessly dogmatic if we had insisted on making a right turn on that street simply because the map said so. But we would have been hopelessly empiricist if we had said, because of our mistakes in following the map, “well this map is no good, let’s throw the whole thing out and find our way without it.’’

Let’s look, then, at the development of capitalism-in its first form in Europe several centuries ago. The first capitalists actually arise under feudalism, within the estate system of the feudal lords. They are mainly merchants who develop within the trading centers connecting the feudal estates. These merchants gradually expand their operations, into money-lending to the feudal lords. The need to re-pay these loans, with interest, forces the lord to exploit the peasants on his estate even more mercilessly, leading to increased rebellion by the peasants. All of this shakes the rule of the feudal aristocracy. At the same time, along with money-lending, the merchants begin to invest their profits in primitive industrial production.

Over a period of time, still within the feudal system, they develop simple manufacturing and the earliest divisions of labor of capitalism: they hire a few laborers to work in their small shops and begin to further expand their operations. Gradually, they break down the guilds of the craftsmen and artisans, drawing them at first into simple manufacturing based on individual craft work, but finished products, which are traded extensively even under pre-monopoly capitalism. In other words, monopoly capitalism is imperialism, when the various groups of large-scale capital carve up the entire world in order to broaden their markets.

But once the entire world is carved up, the competition among the monopolies, and the constant need for expansion – which are characteristics of capitalism – do not end. So the monopoly capitalists become locked in struggle to recarve the world. This means war – between the various ”home” states of the imperialists and increasingly war between the imperialist states and the colonial peoples, whose immediate fight is to gain control of their own national market (in this era, it also can mean war against the socialist states that have closed off their markets to imperialist investment and which support the struggle of the working class and oppressed nations against imperialism).

It is obvious that imperialism, once it has completely carved up the world and ushered in the era of successive imperialist wars plays a completely reactionary role. Early capitalism plays a progressive role in developing large-scale industry and, along with it, the modern working class, concentrated in these large industries. In so doing it also creates the material and political basis for socialism; as Marx says, it creates not only the weapons of its own destruction – large-scale industry – but the soldiers to wield those weapons – the modern industrial proletariat.

Even in the early stages of its development, despite its overall reactionary character, monopoly capitalism (imperialism) plays, secondarily, a progressive role, in so far as it introduces into the backward areas of the world capitalist relations, in place of feudal relations, and especially modern large-scale industry. But, of course, it does this only partially, only so far as it serves its own interests, and always under the most brutal forms of exploitation. And, once they have brought the colonial areas and the entire world under their domination, the overall character of the monopoly capitalists is, once again, completely reactionary and everywhere stands in the way of progress.

In fact, monopoly capitalism raises all the contradictions of capitalism to their highest, most intense level. This is why the great Depression of the 1930’s was the most devastating crisis yet to hit the capitalist world and produced the most destructive war yet. With the development of imperialism, the cyclical crisis of the separate capitalist countries develops into a general crisis that hits the entire imperialist world all at once: not a single imperialist country escaped the 1930’s crisis.

Because it is continually stagnating, and advancing only at the expense of the greatest suffering of the great majority of mankind, and because it is constantly decaying, monopoly capitalism is constantly tending toward fascism, which is nothing but the attempt of the most powerful monopolies to organize the decay of capitalism, to “rationalize” the glaring irrationality of monopoly capitalism, through an even more intense and brutal exploitation of the entire working people.

In addition to creating the modern industrial proletariat, the development of capitalism to imperialism also creates two dislocations at opposite poles of the working class. Among the upper strata, mainly the skilled craftsmen, the imperialists create a labor aristocracy, which they bribe with a few crumbs from the super-exploitation of the colonial peoples, and from the exploitation of the rest of the “domestic” workers, which is more, not less, intense under imperialism. (Exploitation is the rate of surplus value, of unpaid labor, extracted from the labor of the workers; it actually increases as new machinery is introduced by the capitalists, who thereby displace some workers and force those remaining to produce much faster with no increase, and often a decrease, in real wages.)

At the same time, mainly from among the least skilled workers is created a body of permanently unemployed (beyond the regular “reserve army of labor,” which swells with the crises in the capitalist system and is reduced during periods of temporary upswing). Lenin showed how the labor aristocracy is the social base for reformism and revisionism: the monopoly capitalists actively promote the reformist leadership of this upper stratum to hold back the movement of the whole working class. On the other hand, we have seen in the recent experience of our movement that the permanently unemployed can provide the social base for a kind of “left” opportunism or adventurism – the anarchism and destructiveness that result from being torn away from any relation to the means of production and thrown onto the scrapheap of society. Only by basing the revolutionary movement on the masses of production workers in large-scale industry can we avoid both right and “left” errors.

Finally, it is important to point out that monopoly capitalism generally reverses another progressive trend of pre-monopoly capitalism. Early capitalism, with the tremendous expansion of productive forces, brings large numbers of women (along with children) into socialized production and breaks down the feudal bonds that tie peasant woman tightly to the home. Characterized by the most vicious exploitation, this nevertheless creates the material basis for the equality of women and even draws them into political activity. With the development of imperialism and the further decay of capitalism, many of these women are thrown out of work, back into the home, often as part of the permanently unemployed, suffering the humiliation of welfare dependence on the state.

Only during periods of war – the only times when the imperialist economy can utilize the productive forces and the labor power of the working people on a level comparable to the upswing of early capitalist development – are women once more brought back into production on a large scale. During these periods – while many of the men are on the fighting front – women engage in almost every kind of work, including construction, warehouse and longshore, shipping, transport and communications, as well as basic production; making a mockery of the male chauvinist propaganda that characterizes women as fragile and unfit for a “man’s work.” Then, with the end of the war and the slowdown in the economy, as the material basis for chaining the majority of women to the home is once more created, the chauvinist propaganda is once more stepped up to create public opinion for this reactionary move.

In every respect, then, imperialism is capitalism ripe for revolution, capitalism bursting apart at the seams because of the intensified contradictions. The ruling class may be able to hold back, for a short time, the revolutionary movement of the working class in any one country; it may be able to forestall the revolutionary crisis for a brief period, but this only means that the final rupture will be all the more devastating.

With this as background, we can move now to the question.


First off we must grasp and hold firm the fact that the fundamental contradiction in the U.S. is the class question, the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat within this country. This is only the political expression of the contradiction between highly socialized and highly developed productive forces on the one hand, and highly individualized ownership of the means of production. All of the contradictions in society flow from this fundamental contradiction-national oppression, oppression of women, poverty, unemployment, wars.

In the long run, the resolution of all these contradictions depends on the resolution of the fundamental contradiction; and we will have a revolutionary situation in this country only after the fundamental contradiction has become the primary contradiction; and then only when the dictatorship of the proletariat is immediately necessary to resolve the urgent needs of the people, and the masses of people understand this and are willing to fight and die for it. This is the meaning of the statement of our Chinese comrades, which we quote in RED PAPERS 2 at the start of the united front article: “In the imperialist and capitalist countries, the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat are essential for the thorough resolution of the contradictions of capitalist society.”

On the other hand, the road to proletarian revolution lies in linking up the struggles around the contradictions that flow from the fundamental contradiction, as summed up in the five spearheads: This is the basis for our united front strategy. But in order for these struggles to advance and to be brought together into a single revolutionary force capable of overthrowing U.S. imperialism and replacing it with socialism, they must have the leadership of the proletariat, both ideologically and practically.

Why all this fuss about the proletariat; aren’t the other strata and classes that make up the united front also important? Yes, they are all important, but, to use an example from music, the allies of the proletariat are like the harmony in a song, and the proletariat is like the melody. Without the melodic pattern, the different parts of the harmony are just so many discordant notes; without the leading role of the proletariat, the other classes and strata remain so many scattered forces and cannot be united into a revolutionary force. (The line of our departed opportunists on this question calls to mind a commend Stalin once made about Trotsky. Trotsky was quoted as saying, in his typically pompous manner, “I can hear the developing music of the Socialist Revolution.” To this Stalin replied: ”A musician Trotsky may be, but a Marxist he is not!” To extend the analogy, however, our opportunists are poor musicians; as well as poor Marxists!)

But back to the question at hand: As the crisis of the capitalist system grows, as the ruling class intensifies the oppression and exploitation of the people, resistance will also grow, among all sections of the people. But historical experience teaches us that, without the leadership of a class conscious proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist party, the bourgeoisie will temporarily resolve the crisis by fascist means. And further, history also teaches us – and we point this out in RED PAPERS 2 – that all of the potential allies of the proletariat, including not only sections of the petty-bourgeoisie, but even the permanently unemployed, are also potentially a mass base for fascism.

In the absence of a revolutionary working class movement with Marxist-Leninist leadership, even sections of the Black and other Third World peoples can be organized by the fascists, and anyone who doubts this should take a look at organizations like US, headed by Ron Karenga, which are far from dead (although US itself may have nearly outlived its usefulness to the ruling class). As communists, we can only fulfill our historic task by helping to develop the leading role of the proletariat and especially Black and other Third World workers, in all the struggles of the people; and through these struggles build the mass revolutionary movement that can defeat U.S. imperialism.

What do we mean by the proletariat? What is the relationship between the proletariat and other working people? What is the leading role of the proletariat, practically and ideologically?

By proletariat we mean, first and foremost, the workers in large-scale industry, who are concentrated in the factories of the monopoly capitalists. These workers must be developed as the leadership of the entire working class – which includes all those who own no means of production, who are forced to sell their labor power to live and whose condition of life is similar to that of the industrial proletariat. Many of this last group of workers, especially those whose work is highly socialized, will play an extremely important role in the revolutionary movement. Many of them already are-the hospital workers are a very important example.

Even the “underemployed” – those who work infrequently or in menial jobs such as dishwashers, maids, etc. and the permanently unemployed are able to play a leading role in revolutionary struggle, when they are forced into a more socialized situation – in the army, or in prisons, for instance. Especially prisoners oppressed into slave-labor in prison factories, who not only acquire some of the outlook of the workers, but as we have seen, also acquire one of the main weapons of the workers, the strike. Still in the final analysis, the revolutionary movement must be based, both ideologically and practically, on the proletariat in large-scale industry.

The ideological leadership of the proletariat means developing all struggles of all sections of the oppressed people according to the advanced ideas and principles that are characteristic of the proletariat as a class. The conditions of the proletariat and its historical experience as a class demonstrate the necessity of cooperation, of collective rather than individual struggle; and they also make clear the relations of class forces in society – who is the main enemy and who are the potential allies. It is these principles that we must develop in leadership of all the united front struggles: the need to rely on the masses, to unite all who can be united in struggle against the main enemy.

In addition to its socialization, the proletariat, because of its relationship to large-scale means of production, is more able than any other group in society – even more than other sections of the working class – to recognize the tremendous potential of the productive forces, once they can be liberated from the capitalist exploiters. These workers are better able to grasp the fact that revolution is not only a process of tearing down the old society – destroying the state machinery of the capitalist class and its control over the means of production – but of building the new society, based on the workers’ collective ownership of the means of production and control of the state.

The proletariat is the only thoroughly revolutionary class in modern society, because it is the class of the future. All other classes and strata oppressed by the monopoly capitalists also live from the value created (and realized) by the working class. Their outlook is determined by both these factors. And all other strata and classes will be remolded, materially and ideologically into proletariat, into workers, under the socialist system.

This brings us to the question of the practical leadership of the proletariat. The workers, especially industrial workers, not only have the greatest potential for revolutionary understanding, but also the greatest power to inflict damage (consequences) on the enemy, in building the mass movement toward the eventual insurrection and civil war. To build the practical leadership of the proletariat in all the struggles of the United Front means spreading struggles that are initiated outside the work place – the anti-war movement, the Third World liberation struggles, the fight against fascism, the struggle against the oppression of women, the battle against welfare and medical cutbacks, etc. etc. – to the workers and to link them together with the workers’ immediate economic struggles.

Of course, in order for the workers to use their potential power, in order for them to give revolutionary leadership, they must grasp proletarian ideology, and they cannot do this spontaneously, without Marxist-Leninist leadership. The idea that the workers can develop revolutionary consciousness and organization simply through the economic struggle is economism. Lenin wrote a long essay, WHAT IS TO BE DONE, attacking this very idea and stressing the need for revolutionary education of the working class, brought to it from outside its immediate economic battles.

By themselves workers can only develop trade union consciousness, consciousness of the need to fight their immediate employer or all the employers within their trade, which is still reformist consciousness. They can only develop revolutionary consciousness by struggling against all forms of oppression, directed against all the masses. The “largeness of mind” of the proletariat (and there’s another phrase that has created a lot of controversy during this struggle) does not refer to their consciousness at any particular time, but to their potential to grasp revolutionary ideology, Marxism-Leninism.

The point is that in the experience of the working class lies the greatest material basis for revolutionary understanding and organization. Where else, but in the large factories, are thousands of oppressed and exploited people – white and Third World, male and female – concentrated together? Of course, there are contradictions among these thousands of workers, deliberately fostered by the capitalists, but there is also the basis for resolving these contradictions: the need for cooperation and the clear face of the enemy and his allies and flunkies. And where but in factory life can the discipline necessary to carry through struggles be developed so thoroughly? Of course, this is enforced discipline, but it is a weapon that can be turned against the enforcer.

It is true that today the workers are not yet playing the leading role in the struggle against U.S. imperialism. But we would be very narrow-minded, extremely empiricist, if we based our strategy only on what is happening today. By using the dialectical method – by basing ourselves on what is new and arising – we can recognize that, throughout the capitalist and imperialist countries the workers are beginning to rise to their role as revolutionary leaders. The most outstanding example of this is the 1968 general strike and rebellion in France. But even in this country the workers’ struggles are growing and becoming more militant and, led by Black workers, are beginning to extend beyond mere economic questions.

Take, for example, the recent wildcat of cable car drivers in San Francisco, which is not strictly speaking the industrial proletariat, but still demonstrates the power and growing consciousness of the workers. Peking Review 52 took note of the workers’ strikes over the past year, and in particular the railroad workers wildcat, which for a short time defied the bosses’ union henchmen and court injunctions. The Chinese pointed to the fact that the “American working class is the hope of the United States,” and that they are “already demonstrating their potential as the main and leading revolutionary force.”

Historically, in every country including the United States, the opportunists – those who claim to be Marxists, but switch principles to suit the occasion – have been characterized by their denial of the leading role of the proletariat. And historically Marxist-Leninist leaders have had to fight every inch of the way to uphold the line of basing the revolutionary movement on the working class. Engels, in “The Housing Question” – which was one of many Marxist writings turned inside out by our own opportunists – says it very simply: the driving spirit of the working class movement has nothing to do with abstract principles, with moral judgments, but every tiling to do with the concentration of capital on the one hand and of the workers in large-scale industry, on the other.

Lenin in “Retrograde Trend in Social Democracy” points out that in Russia, and all the capitalist and imperialist countries, the revolutionary movement is based, not on the most oppressed, but on the better situated workers – the workers in large-scale industry, who through their trade union struggles have actually achieved a higher standard of living, but, more importantly, have developed mass organization and the basis for class consciousness.

Stalin, in summing up the October Revolution, in FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM, stresses the fact that the Russian revolution could move directly to socialism, despite the relatively small industrial base and the small number of workers, because of the very high percentage of large-scale enterprises and the correspondingly high percentage of workers in large industry (over 50% in factories employing more than 500 in 1917). And Mao in “Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society,” points out that the proletariat was already the most progressive, most thoroughly revolutionary class in 1926, despite the fact that it numbered only two million in a country of 600 million. It was the leading revolutionary class primarily because of its concentration in large-scale industry.

Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao did not defend and develop the idea of the leading role of the proletariat dogmatically, or concoct it out of thin air. They summed up the historical experience of revolutionary struggle in the capitalist epoch and the revolutionary struggles in their own countries. In Russia it was the industrial workers who played the vanguard role in the successful revolution of 1917, as well as the unsuccessful revolution of 1905. Throughout Europe, in the revolutionary period that followed World War I, in every country where the movement reached the stage of armed struggle for state power – in Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Germany – it was the proletariat that led the struggle. In the U.S. itself, during this same period, and later, in the great depression of the 1930’s when the crisis of the imperialist system and the struggles of the people advanced the farthest toward revolutionary proportions, it was once again the industrial workers who marched at the head of the movement.

But what about China, or Vietnam today? Isn’t it true that the peasants are the main revolutionary force, and isn’t the policy of the Communists to give proletarian leadership, to put proletarian ideology in command of the peasant based war? This has been raised in this struggle as the basis for saying that the unemployed – who, like the peasants, are far more oppressed, forced into more wretched and desperate conditions, than the workers – will be the main revolutionary force, and that the main tasks of Communists here is to bring proletarian ideology to the struggle of the unemployed to develop their vanguard role.

Let’s examine the Chinese experience more closely and see how the lessons of the Chinese revolution apply here.

In the first stage of the Chinese revolution, before the seizure of nationwide power in October, 1949, the main fighting force, the masses who were directly mobilized in fighting the revolutionary war, were the peasants. The role of the Chinese Communist Party during this first stage was to give proletarian leadership to this peasant-based movement. But proletarian leadership was not a question of proletarian ideology in the abstract – a question only of revolutionary intellectuals giving political education classes to the peasants (though that was part of it) – but of recruiting and training communist workers from the factories to go to the countryside to give active, direct, proletarian leadership.

In FANSHEN it is emphasized that in Long Bow (a typical Chinese village) the core of the Communist Party Branch, the First peasants recruited, were mainly those who had some working class experience: either in the village itself, in small enterprises, or, at some time when they had been forced to leave the village for the big city, as laborers or factory workers in more socialized situations.

Even more importantly: when the Chinese revolution developed to its second stage, the struggle to build socialism, the main force, as well as the ideological leader, of the revolution, was the working class itself. During the first stage – the New Democratic revolution – the main enemy was imperialism, foreign finance capital and its two domestic allies, bureaucrat capitalism (the few giant Chinese capitalists, in direct partnership with the foreign monopoly capitalists) and feudalism. The struggle of the peasants against the landlords – the struggle against feudalism in the countryside – led by the party of the proletariat, was the driving force during this stage, both economically (developing the productive forces to lay the basis for socialization and collectivization) and politically (building the worker-peasant alliance as the form of state power).

The unemployed are not a separate class from the workers, as the peasants are. (Unless the unemployed are excluded from labor altogether and take up illegal means of living; then they do become part of the true lumpen-proletariat, the declassed groups whose position in society is a mirror image of the petty-bourgeoisie. The Panthers, for example, call the lumpen the “illegitimate capitalists.” And we have an outstanding example in the Mafia of a group that rose from illegitimate to legitimate capitalists, from part of the lumpen-proletariat to part of the petty, and in some cases big, bourgeoisie).

The contradiction between unemployed workers and the U.S. ruling class is part of the fundamental contradiction between labor and capital, and its resolution lies through working class revolution, with the industrial proletariat as the central force.

In China, as the revolution developed, with the overthrow of the landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists, as the revolutionary forces entered the cities to consolidate nationwide power, the key political question arose, as Mao says; on whom shall we rely in our struggle in the cities? Mao answers this very sharply: some muddle-headed comrades think we should rely, not on the working class, but on the masses of the poor (the coolies, the unemployed, the lumpen-proletariat). We must rely wholeheartedly on the working class and unite with the laboring masses, Mao insists.

At this point the main task of the Chinese Communist Party was to mobilize the workers, develop their mass organizations and raise their political consciousness. This was the only way the struggle could be carried forward to build socialism. The difference between the Chinese revolution – a two-stage revolution in a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country – and the October Revolution in Russia – an imperialist country – was that the work of building the mass workers’ movement was carried out in China, mainly after the seizure of state power (which was accomplished through a peasant-based protracted war); while, in Russia, and in all the capitalist and imperialist countries, the building of the mass workers movement is the road to capturing state power.

In capitalist and imperialist countries, the revolutionary struggle against imperialism has only one stage. The imperialists are not a foreign enemy, but the immediate, direct, “home” ruling class. In capitalist countries the struggle against feudalism, the bourgeois democratic revolution, is led by the capitalist class. Russia itself formed a kind of special case. It was the most backward imperialist country at the time of the 1917 revolution. The Russian bourgeoisie did not develop as a powerful political force until the second half of the 19th century; it was still relatively small and weak by 1900 and it had to compromise with the Tsar and the big landlords in consolidating capitalism.

The bourgeois democratic revolution was not completed until February, 1917, when the Tsar was completely swept aside. This February revolution resulted in a form of dual power. Both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie had fought for leadership of the bourgeois democratic revolution, and after February each established a form of power: the parties of the bourgeoisie controlled the formal state apparatus, while the workers exercised power through the Soviets. This contradiction was resolved through the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie in the October, 1917 revolution.

But even in Russia, by 1900 the capitalist mode of production and capitalist relations of production were completely dominant and had even developed to the stage of imperialism, despite the feudal and monarchal survivals. In the rest of the capitalist and imperialist countries, the bourgeois-democratic revolution was carried out and consolidated much more decisively under the leadership of the capitalist class.

This is certainly the case in the U.S. At this time, in the most developed imperialist country in the world, there can be no question of a two-stage revolution. The main and leading force in the U.S. revolution must be the working class. We make this very clear in RED PAPERS 2 in exposing and combating the phony two-stage theory of the revisionist “Communist Party.”

Exactly because ours is a single stage revolution and the working class must be the main and leading force, the primary aspect of building the united front is to build it within the working class itself, to promote the struggle of the workers around the five spearheads: (1) The national liberation of the Black and Chicano peoples and the support for the democratic demands of all oppressed minorities; (2) Against imperialist aggression, support for colonial revolution; (3) Against fascism and fascist repression; (4) Against the oppression and exploitation of women; (5) Unite the proletariat to resist the attacks by the monopoly capitalists on the people’s living standards.

Does this mean that we should only work among the proletariat? No, to build the broadest possible united front we must work among all sections of the oppressed classes and peoples. But we must concentrate our work in the working class. Even in the short run, to advance the struggles around the five spearheads and to link them together, depends on developing the struggles of the workers themselves around every spearhead. And, of course, in the long run, by the complete victory of all the spearheads of struggle depends on proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship.

Here again, we must avoid the twin errors of dogmatism and empiricism. We must recognize that all of the political questions that the working class must take up in order to develop revolutionary consciousness and organization, arise – at first – most intensely among the other strata and classes. In the early stages of the crisis it is the least stable sections of society – the petty-bourgeoisie and less stable sectors of the working people, especially the permanently unemployed – who are hit hardest and strike back in the most immediate and desperate way. The strength of organizations based on these sections – especially the Panthers, based on the most oppressed Black people – is that they are able to perceive and raise struggle against the attack on the people’s living standards and the increasing fascist attacks on the peoples’ struggles, before the working class as a whole takes up these struggles. In this way they provide inspiration for the workers’ movement.

The weakness of these organizations is that they tend toward anarchism, toward desperation, toward a rash advance into all-out struggle before the mass movement has developed to the point that the struggle can be carried through to complete victory.

Even in dealing with organizations based on the petty bourgeoisie we must recognize both their strengths and weaknesses. In the past, especially in dealing with the women’s liberation movement, we have tended to be one-sided and dogmatic. We have tended to put down the various women’s groups because they are based among petty-bourgeois students and petty-bourgeois women in general.

But they have also raised issues – such as child care – and broader political questions – such as the role of women in the home, in society and in revolutionary organizations – that are crucial for the revolutionary struggle in the U.S. We must take a more dialectical approach to these groups, uniting with them as far as possible, fighting for a proletarian line on the question of women’s liberation in opposition to their petty-bourgeois line, encouraging the development among some of these groups toward a broader anti-imperialist program and using their strengths to combat their petty-bourgeois outlook.

Our task as communists is to support and give leadership to all the struggles of the people. When objectively anti-imperialist struggle breaks out among non-proletarian strata and classes, we must join with these struggles, fight for proletarian ideology, unite all who can be united against the main enemy, and work tirelessly to spread the struggles to the working class. In the fight against welfare and medical cutbacks, to cite one immediate example, we must mobilize not only the people immediately affected, the welfare recipients, but also carry on widespread propaganda and agitation among the workers, explaining how the attacks on welfare recipients are only the first steps in an all-out attack on the whole working class; and by relying on the most politically conscious and active workers, mobilize the workers in active support.

The same holds true for defense of the Black Panther Party, of political prisoners, etc. By relying on the advanced Black workers we can begin to build a movement in the working class that can fight for the freedom of political prisoners through massive work stoppages and militant workers’ demonstrations. In the long run, this, more than anything else, will demonstrate to the Panthers and to all honest revolutionaries the crucial importance of the working class as the main force in the revolutionary movement. To do this will not be easy, and our organization certainly cannot do it alone. But the basis does exist now to begin building such a movement in the working class, and we must help to initiate it, to build it, whatever the objective and subjective difficulties.

To sum up: we must unite with all progressive and revolutionary organizations, especially those, like the Black Panther Party, who have based themselves on the most important ally of the working class, the most oppressed sections of the Black people. We must build support for the advanced struggles they have been leading, fight for the leadership of proletarian ideology in these struggles – specifically the need to mobilize the masses and rely on their struggle – and build on the leading role of Black and other Third World workers in spreading these struggles to the working class.

Finally, on the question of proletarian leadership: Whatever the opportunists may think, or say, basing ourselves on the industrial proletariat is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and we don’t have to wash out our mouth after using the word “working class.” As Mao says, the proletariat is the greatest class in history, ideologically, organizationally, in strength and in numbers. It is the task of communists, those who strive to be the political representatives of the proletariat, to build the leadership of the working class, practically as well as ideologically, within the United Front, and, through this process, wage the battle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism and communism.

After all, the dictatorship of the proletariat is exactly that, and not the dictatorship of any other class. Although sections of the petty-bourgeoisie and other strata can and must be allies of the proletariat in achieving and consolidating its dictatorship, the interests of all other classes must be subordinate to the interests of the proletariat as a class. Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-tung Thought is proletarian ideology, not the ideology of any other class: and as such it is the only thoroughly revolutionary ideology. And, despite the impression deliberately created by our departed opportunists, the proletariat, and specifically the workers in basic industry, are not all white or all male. They are more than one-fourth women and probably more than one-fifth Third World; and the most active and politically conscious workers, at this time, are no doubt overwhelmingly Black and brown.

This brings us to the theoretical and practical question that lies at the heart of the U.S. revolutionary movement:


We said earlier that the fundamental contradiction in the U.S. is the contradiction between labor and capital, and that a revolutionary situation will develop in the U.S. only after this fundamental contradiction has become the principal contradiction. At the present time the principal contradiction within the United States – and by that we mean the contradiction that is most intense, that gives rise to the sharpest struggle and determines the development of all other contradictions – is between the nationally oppressed peoples and the U.S. Imperialists.

The contradiction between the working class as a whole and the U.S. Imperialists will become the principal contradiction as the white section of the working class is won to revolutionary unity with the struggles of the nationally oppressed peoples, who are also overwhelmingly workers. But this unity is possible, it is already being built through struggle because the interests of the masses of Black, brown and other Third World people, and the road to their complete liberation are the same as for the masses of white workers. Since Black, Chicano and other Third World people are overwhelmingly workers; their struggles have a dual character: the national aspect and the class aspect.

The heart of our analysis of the unity between the national struggle and the class struggle in the U.S. lies in the fact that Black and Chicano working people are at one and the same time members of oppressed nations and, in their great majority members of the single U.S. working class. Their struggles against discrimination, violent repression, and other forms of oppression are at one and the same time national struggles and an advanced component of the working class struggle. This is why Mao stresses in his 1968 statement in support of the Afro-American people’s struggle against violent repression that, in the final analysis, the contradiction between the Black masses and the U.S. ruling class is a class contradiction: that for this reason the Black people’s struggle is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement: and that this will eventually end the criminal rule of U.S. monopoly capitalism.

Mao also emphasizes the role the Black people’s struggle is playing today in providing inspiration and impetus for the whole workers’ movement; and that, for this reason, the Black people’s struggle is winning increasing sympathy and support among white workers and other progressive whites.

Mao is not a mechanical Marxist and neither should we be. This linking together of the Black, as well as the Chicano and other Third World peoples’ struggles with the workers’ movement is not an “automatic” process. It cannot occur spontaneously, without Marxist-Leninist leadership. It will require the most self-sacrificing and determined’ work of Communists to build the multi-national revolutionary unity of the proletariat. Programmatically, it means a systematic attack on white supremacy as part of the overall struggle against imperialism.

At this point in our theoretical and practical development, we have a long way to go in giving life to these general principles, which reflect the basic understanding that the bringing together of the national struggles and the working class struggle as a whole is the key link in the U.S. proletarian revolution. It is the key theoretical and practical question that Marxist-Leninists must solve in building and leading the U.S. revolutionary movement.

In order to develop our own understanding and our practical work on this question, our organization must pay special attention to recruiting into the ranks of our membership, and our leadership, Third World people and especially Third World workers, who can play a special role in providing direction and leadership on this crucial question. In the final analysis, the question can only be solved through the leadership of a multi-national Communist party, a genuine revolutionary party with a real base among the masses of working people and other oppressed people in this country.

There is however one question that has been raised – honestly by some comrades, and completely dishonestly by our former comrades – which we must clarify at this point. The question is where do we stand on the right of Black and Chicano people to self-determination, do we deny that Black people and Chicanos are nations within the U.S., and wouldn’t denying this also mean that we are denying them the right to self-determination, to political secession? To answer the question simply: we do hold to the formulation in RED PAPERS 2 that the Black and Mexican-American peoples are oppressed nations within the U.S. and we do recognize the responsibility of a Communist organization – and especially of its white members – to build support for the right of Black people and Chicanos to self-determination, the right to choose whether to be part of a single U.S. nation or set up separate Black and Chicano republics.

But, having said that, we must also recognize that this is not a simple question. Neither the Black people, nor the Mexican-Americans satisfy all four of the criteria that Stalin formulated and Marxists have recognized as the basis for a nation: common language, culture, history, economic life and territory. So, in order to get a more thorough understanding of the question, we have to look, briefly, at the historical treatment by Marxists of the national question in the world movement as a whole and within this country.

We showed earlier how the development of modern nations is a function of the bourgeois epoch, arising from the need of the capitalist class for a large, integrated market. Before our present period of history, before World War II, the national question had gone through two stages. The first was in the period of the early development of capitalism, when it was a question of the right of each separate capitalist class to form a separate state, free of the domination of the ruling class of another nation. In this period the national question is fundamentally a bourgeois question: the bourgeoisie seeks to mobilize the peasantry and the young working class in support of the struggle for a separate state.

The second period begins with the development of imperialism and the increased exploitation of the colonial countries. It becomes a question of the struggle between the small but arising proletariat and the small and weak national bourgeoisie to gain leadership of the national liberation movement, to win over the peasants in the struggle against feudalism and imperialism. The land question is central to the national struggle: the development of the productive forces and particularly the development of modern industry depends on breaking up the feudal estates and, by breaking the feudal fetters, laying the agricultural base for industrialization. The peasants are still the main force. That is why Stalin wrote that the national question at that time was in essence a peasant question. But where the party of the proletariat wins leadership of the peasant revolutionary movement, and integrates this into the struggle against imperialism (and its bureaucrat-capitalist agents), the national liberation, struggle becomes part of the socialist revolution, rather than the capitalist revolution.

Turning to this country, the national question has gone through both periods. First the bourgeois involution of 1776, establishing the United States as an independent capitalist state. Then, after the armed theft of the southwest from Mexico and the Civil War, two oppressed nations were developed within the larger United States: the Mexican-American nation in the southwest, and the Afro-American nation in the Black Belt of the south. Until the second world war, the great majority of the Black and Mexican-American peoples were concentrated in these areas in essentially semi-feudal relations, as sharecroppers and small farmers. During this period – between 1850 and 1940 – the Chicano nation and the Black nation were very similar to the semi-colonial, semi-feudal nations of Asia, with the major difference that they existed within the borders of a powerful capitalist nation, which became the most powerful imperialist country after World War I.

This difference has proved to be very important. During and after World War II, with the boom of the economy, up from the stagnant years of the depression, Black and Chicano workers were drawn from the countryside by the powerful magnet of expanding industry and trade, and were dispersed throughout the U.S. Today the majority of Chicanos and the overwhelming majority of Black people are workers in the cities, not farmers.

This has created oppressed nations of a new type: dispersed proletarian nations. Now the national question is no longer in essence a peasant question. The Marxist formulation for semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries – leadership: proletarian; main force: peasants no longer fits our conditions. Now the formulation must be: leadership: proletarian; main force: workers. Among these workers, white members of an oppressed nation of a new type, are also members of the single U.S. working class.

All this means that Black people’ and Chicanos are in a much more powerful position than they were before World War II. Then the question was one of an alliance between an almost all-white working class and the Black and Chicano peasant nations, with the working class as the leading force. Today Black and Chicano workers are concentrated in basic industry, at the crucial point in society; they are the leading force within the working class movement. The alliance that they are already taking the lead in forging, between the proletariat as a class and the Black and Chicano nations as a whole, will be the solid core of the united front and the dictatorship of the proletariat, establishing the basis for the complete liberation of the proletariat and all oppressed peoples within the United States.


The question of fascism and fascist repression is very closely linked with the national liberation struggles of the Black and Chicano and other Third World peoples. These oppressed peoples are today the most severe victims of the growing fascist repression.

But there seems to be some confusion between fascism, as a form of state power, and fascist repression. Our opportunist splitters deliberately obscured this question, along with the others that have arisen in this struggle. They, characterized U.S. society today as a “developing fascist state,” while at the same time, insisting that we are revisionists for not recognizing the responsibility to wage a fight against fascism in its preparatory stages. If fascism is already the form of state, then it is already too late to fight the bourgeoisie’s preparatory fascist moves; if fascism is not the form of state power then what is the meaning of the concept: “developing fascist state?”

Fascism is one of the two main forms of rule, of the dictatorship by the capitalist class. It is the open, terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary section of the bourgeoisie. By this we do not mean, as the revisionists pretend, that there are “good” imperialists and “bad” imperialists, that some sections of the ruling class are “liberal” or “progressive” in opposition to others that are reactionary. The most reactionary section of the ruling class refers to the section that goes to the greatest lengths, uses the most vicious means, not only to oppress and exploit the people, but even to smash the other sections of monopoly, as the full maturing of the revolutionary crisis leads to such intense competition among the monopolies that the bourgeois state, in its present form, no longer serves to peacefully mediate the disputes within the ruling class. In RED PAPERS 1 we point out that the role of arbiter of inter-ruling class disputes is an important function of the bourgeois state, alongside its primary function: to oppress the working class.

Any section of the monopoly capitalist class is capable of becoming the most reactionary, as the crisis grows and intensifies. Roosevelt is a perfect example. Under the leadership of Earl Browder, the C.P. in this country formulated the position, dining the second world war, that Roosevelt was a ”progressive” imperialist. In fact, in the early years of his administration, Roosevelt moved very quickly in the direction of fascism, with emergency political powers and with economic policies – specifically the National Recovery Act – which were aimed at further enslaving the working class and ruining the petty-bourgeoisie in order to safeguard the position of the large monopolies and banking houses. Roosevelt only altered his course away from fascism when the militarization of the economy, in preparation for the war, and then the war itself, opened a new way out, for the time being.

Today, with the beginning developments of the potentially most severe and destructive crisis of the imperialist system, we see at one and the same time, increasing repression against the people’s struggles and open struggle within the ruling class, the latter reflected in the fight over Supreme Court appointments, Agnew’s attacks on certain news media, their counter-charges of “censorship,” and even assassinations (Kennedy’s). Things have not yet reached the stage where the various powerhouses of finance capital are organizing private armies to fight each other as well as to attack the people’s movement. But things are headed in that direction; and, as the crisis grows, the bourgeois state, in its present form, will no longer be sufficient to carry out either of its two functions – either the main function of suppressing the masses, or the secondary function of arbitrating ruling class disputes.

This touches upon the three conditions that Lenin said must be satisfied for a revolutionary situation to exist: (1) The ruling class can no longer rule in the old way; (2) the lower classes can no longer live in the old way, are conscious of the need for revolution and willing to fight and die to achieve it; and (3) a Marxist-Leninist party has won leadership of the revolutionary movement, with the correct strategy and tactics to carry the struggle through to overthrow the old ruling class and organize the new society.

As the crisis develops and the contradictions within the ruling class intensify in the capitalists’ mad scramble for shrinking profits, the first condition develops. At the same time, as the people’s resistance grows in opposition to the ruling class’ attempts to intensify the oppression and exploitation of the masses, and as, in turn, the ruling class meets this heightened resistance wish more open terroristic repression, and the people, once again, raise their resistance – the second condition comes into being.

Then the question finally conies down to: is there a party of the proletariat, based on the industrial workers in leadership of the working class movement and the broader united front? Without such a party, without a strong working class movement under Marxist-Leninist leadership, the most reactionary, most powerful sections of finance capital will be able to consolidate fascism as the form of state power and bring about even more savage exploitation and repression of the people.

To panic at this point, to conclude that fascism is already here, that there is no time to build a working class movement is objectively counter-revolutionary, because it retards the development of the only force that can prevent fascism: the revolutionary workers’ movement, in leadership of all the oppressed and exploited peoples.

Yes, the ruling class is developing its fascist apparatus; but it is developing it within bourgeois democracy, which is still the dominant form of bourgeois rule in this society. Now nobody should get too excited: bourgeois democracy does not mean that there is real freedom for the masses of people. Bourgeois democracy is simply a veiled form of class oppression, of bourgeois dictatorship, in which there is real democracy only for the ruling class, and sham, limited rights for the people. This is why Dimitroff is absolutely correct in insisting that the fight against fascism must, be taken up in the preparatory stages of fascism, within bourgeois democracy.

At the present time the ruling class is laying the basis for fascism through two tactics: (1) increased terror and repression, aimed mainly at the Third World peoples, especially the sub-proletarian strata; and (2) the strengthening of social-democratic reformist leadership over the organized working class. By this dual method, the ruling class hopes to smash the most advanced struggles of the people at this time, split the broad ranks of the working class, and divide the workers from their allies – leaving the people helpless in the face of increased exploitation and repression.

The ruling class has historically made use of the social-democrats to hold the working class in check, while the bourgeoisie moves toward fascism. This is why social-democracy is an objective ally of fascism. In this period, the revisionists pose an increasing danger to the working class and the people. With the support of powerful sections of monopoly the CP. will grow, gain a larger foothold among sections of the more privileged workers, and in this way seek to chain the working class movement to the ruling class. The main danger today is class collaboration, a line of relying on “liberals” in the ruling class and their agents among the working class and the oppressed peoples.

One of the forms that-revisionism takes is parliamentary cretinism (relying on voting) in opposition to armed struggle, but this is only one way the revisionists put forward reliance on the bourgeoisie and on forms of struggle acceptable to the bourgeoisie. At the present time, the main form this takes is substituting legal courtroom battles for mass movements to resist fascist repression. And only a mass movement, guided by proletarian ideology and the strength of the working class, can prevent the consolidation of fascism.

To sum up: As the crisis of imperialism becomes more acute, two developments take place, which are more and more set on a collision course: on the one hand, the growing revolutionary movement and organization of the masses; and, on the other the growing fascist repression by the ruling class. As the crisis grows to full revolutionary proportions, and the ruling class has no other way out, its most powerful, reactionary sections will try to make the qualitative leap to consolidate fascism by launching an attack on all of the people’s mass organizations, with the objective of smashing them completely, stripping the people of all rights and depriving them of any means of resistance. Under these conditions, the only way to prevent the consolidation of fascism is to overthrow the ruling class. In the final analysis the question of preventing fascism comes down to the question of proletarian revolution. Our strategy for the one must be the same as the other.

This brings us to the final question: military strategy for the U.S. revolution:


Some comrades express strong disagreement with the position formulated by Mao that the October Russian revolution is the correct model for revolution in capitalist and imperialist countries, such as the U.S. Our former comrades were forced to challenge this statement, because it completely contradicted their petty-bourgeois line of protracted urban guerilla war of attrition. But many honest comrades raise the objection: the United States in 1971 is very different from Russia in 1917 and the correct strategy there may not be correct here. In a literal sense, this is, of course, true. And there are important material and political differences, among them, the level of productive forces within the U.S., the fact of successful socialist revolutions in over one-fourth of the world, the rising tide of revolutionary struggle throughout the colonial world, the temporary setback of proletarian revolution in the imperialist countries, including the U.S., the presence of dispersed proletarian nations in the cities of the U.S. and the lack of a revolutionary working class movement and a Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S. at this time.

For all of these reasons, and others, the struggle in the U.S. will not take the exact same form as the Russian revolution. Citing the October revolution as the basic model does not mean that the struggles will be identical, any more than citing the Chinese revolution as the model for semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries means that the revolutions in those countries will pass through exactly the same stages, that the revolutionary war will unfold through exactly the same forms, etc.

In Vietnam the conditions are different in several important aspects from those in China – including the presence of China as a powerful rear base area for Vietnam. But the Chinese revolution is still the basic model for the struggle in Vietnam, and all semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries. Why? Because the level of productive forces and the relations of production are basically the same; and these are the fundamental factors in determining the form that the revolutionary struggle will assume.

This is the same reason the Russian revolution is the basic model for capitalist and imperialist countries. The productive forces and the relations of production are bourgeois. It is not possible to establish a base area for guerilla warfare, because, as we showed in the first section, capitalism requires a very large market and no small area can be economically self-sufficient. Therefore, no matter how much military struggle unfolds before the final showdown, the revolutionary forces cannot take the strategic military offensive, until they are prepared to carry it through, in a massive onslaught which can seize power over a large area in a short space of time The strategy of insurrection and civil war means that, during the entire period before this mass onslaught military work must be developed within the strategic defensive and always as a part of developing the mass movement toward the mass onslaught.

Actually, the main difference between the U.S. and Russia, 1917 – the fact that Russia was the least developed imperialist nation while the U.S. today is the most developed – means the proletariat will play an even more decisive role and that concentrating on the working class is even more our central task. But we do not pretend to know at this time how the U.S. revolution will develop, except in the most general terms that we have laid out; it would be pure metaphysics to try to concoct a blue print at this point.

There is, however, one practical question that is of immediate importance, within the general understanding that the political movement of the masses is the main form of struggle now, and that military work is secondary to this work, and must serve the purpose of building the mass movement. The burning question is: how do we sum up the various acts of revolutionary violence that have increased over the past few years, and will no doubt continue to increase in the immediate period, especially among the most oppressed sections of the Black and Chicano peoples? As Lenin insists in “Guerilla Warfare,” when the oppressed classes develop any form of struggle, it is the duty of communists to sum up these forms and give more conscious expression to them, and guide them, tactically and politically.

It is completely opposed to Marxism to denounce these forms of struggle, or to refuse to engage in them, because they are not the final form that the revolutionary movement must develop in order to win complete victory. This is dogmatism, not Marxism. But it is empiricism to raise these actions, which are overwhelmingly spontaneous – not guided by revolutionary organization and theory – to the level of a strategy. Again, we must avoid both these errors.

At this time we must develop our ability to give these actions military and political leadership, integrating them with the mass movement where possible and carrying on propaganda and agitation to explain them to the masses, even where they are divorced from the mass movement. We must have a dialectical approach to these actions. We must recognize that, on the one hand, they signify that the section of the people whose living conditions have deteriorated first and who are the main victims of fascist repression at this time are not intimidated by the ruling class’ violence and are hitting back with revolutionary violence.

On the other hand, these actions are to some degree a measure of the desperation and frustration of these same strata, because the working class movement is still very undeveloped. As the working class movement, led by Black and brown workers, grows in strength and consciousness and begins to unfold mass struggle against the attacks on the people, acts of revolutionary violence will occur less in isolation from the mass movement, and acts of revolutionary violence connected with the mass movement will increase. As this happens, the ability of Marxist-Leninists to give firm tactical and political leadership to revolutionary violence will also greatly increase. This, again, is not an automatic, but a dialectical process. And all genuine revolutionaries must constantly advance their ability to give tactical and political leadership to armed struggle as a subordinate part of the overall political struggle.

In this way, revolutionaries can help to lead the masses in armed struggle, actively prepare the masses, and develop a steeled military staff, for the eventual mass uprising: the insurrection and civil war. And we can combine all forms of struggle to build the United Front under proletarian leadership, to advance the revolutionary movement toward its long-term goal: the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism and communism.