Resolution on the "Draft Programme of the 'Revolutionary Communist Party, USA' May 2001"
The "RCP-USA" is in the process of changing the program it has had since the 1980s. The draft program it offers has been on sale since May 1, 2001.
On the whole, the program does make some progress toward clarifying the "RCP- USA" line, including in respect to MIM's line. This progress has been painfully slow; nonetheless, we will note some areas of change and comparison for the "RCP" line.
Briefly, there are two areas that MIM would like to give some praise to in the "RCP-USA" program. 1) The question of organizing for partial demands versus revolutionary direction. 2) The united front as an alignment of classes.
On the question of the role of the revolutionary party, the "RCP" has some good pithy statements, not unlike MIM's own line: "If the goal is simply to fan dissent and protest, or to build a movement that may take militantly to the streets around particular outrages but does not aim to overthrow the system, then one can dispense with revolutionary organization--a vanguard is not necessary, and for that matter there's no need for revolutionary ideology."(p. 36)
In another section on this topic of revolutionary leadership, the "RCP"-USA expresses (as it has for decades now) the idea of working from the revolution "back." "This orientation involves carrying out revolutionary work from the 'armed insurrection and civil war back'--that is, grasping first of all what is needed to begin a revolutionary struggle for power, and drawing the links between that and the work we do at every point in the process that precedes the development of the revolutionary situation."(p. 50) In actuality, this line is by definition a statement of ultra-leftism. When the United $tates is faced by insurrection and revolutionary civil war, it will be by definition in more advanced conditions than it is today. Hence to argue from the revolution "back" is simple ultra-leftism, and for the "RCP" that takes typical Trotskyist conjuncturalist forms.
As MIM explained before, why not reason from "communism" backwards? The reason is that under communism, there will be no exploiters. So anyone arguing from communism "back" is justifying a soft line on the exploiters today. Even during the socialist revolution, long before communism, Marx said a minority of the bourgeoisie would be far-sighted and take the side of the proletariat. Yet, this was never a reason in Marx's view to start advocating bourgeois demands to bring about that swing of a minority to the revolutionary side.
This sort of ultra-leftism is almost always a cover for social-democratic-style revisionism--revisionism because in the case of the "RCP," the organization claims to be "Marxist" and even "Marxist-Leninist-Maoist." By looking far to the future when masses of people will be splitting into camps and millions of masses of people in the imperialist countries ARE revolutionary, the "RCP" seeks to justify tailing exploiters NOW. In contrast, we advise comrades to see what Lenin told English and Amerikan comrades during the Comintern's days. What is true at one moment is not necessarily true at all moments. For this reason, Lenin said that at first the revolutionary workers and "masses" referred only to a few thousand people total in Russia.
"We must prepare for dictatorship, and this consists in combating such phrases and such amendments. (Laughter.) Throughout, our theses speak of the masses. But, comrades, we need to understand what is meant by masses. The German Communist Workers' Party, the Left-wing comrades, misuse this word. But Comrade Terracini, too, and all those who have signed these amendments, do not know how the word "masses" should be read.
"I have been speaking too long as it is; hence I wish to say only a few words about the concept of 'masses'. It is one that changes in accordance with the changes in the nature of the struggle. At the beginning of the struggle it took only a few thousand genuinely revolutionary workers to warrant talk of the masses." (Speech at the 3rd Congress of the Comintern) Notice how Lenin refers to the current situation --realistically and with some bitterness when he recalls the situation in 1905 in lectures after 1917 for instance--as his reference point and does not argue from the revolution "back" as the "RCP" says to do. It is for this sort of reason that MIM has always stressed its materialism. Comrades are to be dialectical but they are to work for the possibilities inherent in this moment. They are not to reason in a religious fashion.
Nonetheless, despite this criticism we have of the "RCP" line, we do say that the following statement is correct: "The greatest danger for parties in imperialist countries has been the tendency to divorce the situation and the work of the party at any given time from the revolutionary goal--to put all one's emphasis on building the struggles of today in a way that does NOT nurture the seeds of tomorrow."(p. 52) Rather than its long-winded and evasive discussions of economism, and especially imperialist-economism, this statement from the "RCP" will do in many situations.
That covers one area of praise we have for the "RCP-USA" program. Another concerns the united front. As many are apt to forget, the united front does not mean coalitions of compromising organizations. It is "a basic alliance of classes opposed to imperialism led by the one class, the proletariat, that can marshal the necessary forces to overthrow the existing order and lead in creating a radically different kind of society."(p. 54)
Our disagreement with the "RCP-USA" is how it puts the interests of the international proletariat on the backburner with its pursue-the-majority's-economic-interests line for imperialist countries. There is now a united front of imperialists and the labor aristocracy, based on the imperialists' re-distribution of super-profits. That is the united front that exists and needs attacking. Arguing from a more advanced time period of the imagined future backwards, the "RCP-USA" fantasizes that the international proletariat has a united front with the exploiter majority within U.$. borders. Aside from creating a basis for white nationalism, this line spreads illusions that seriously set back the day of successful People's Wars to overthrow imperialism.
The current reality of united front is at best a student-lumpen alliance with the "solid core" as the "RCP-USA" says in the oppressed nationalities. That is where we start from. We must admit with the forces at our disposal that we cannot disrupt the dispersal of super-profits to the labor aristocracy by the imperialists; therefore, the enemy united front (class alignment) will stay in place for a strategic length of time, likely till after the dictatorship of the proletariat comes to power. The People's Wars of the Third World can and historically have disrupted the flow of super-profits to the labor aristocracy, so too has intra-imperialist war. The tasks carried out by Third World Peoples' Wars or intra-imperialist war are not something we can complete with either the purest or most compromising united front with the labor aristocracy.
Pretending otherwise based on some white nationalist vision of the future only results in the following: 1) The masses think we have no grip on reality and fail to trust us. 2) We fail to recognize the opportunities that are on our agenda, the things that the imperialists are handing to us on a silver platter. 3) We confuse ourselves with New Age ideas by essentially saying that our line is sufficient to disrupt the imperialist-labor aristocracy class alignment, and we become revisionists with the "RCP-USA" line. 4) We send a signal to the international proletariat that no one inside U.$. borders seriously intends to redistribute the means of production or supports such. The "RCP-USA" united front that includes the labor aristocracy falsely dubbed as proletarians implies a relatively unencumbered switch of places with the imperialists. In contrast, MIM's focus for a strategic length of time when it comes to imperialist countries is how to break the imperialist/labor-aristocracy alignment and how to eradicate its material bases.
In words, the "RCP-USA" has now taken a stand on homosexuality that MIM cannot disagree with. Historically, the "RCP-USA" has always taken openly homophobic stands. "RCP-USA" members who deny or evade the history of the "Revolutionary Union" and homosexuality are liars deceiving the people on this question and any stance on gays and lesbians should come with self-criticism for the "RCP-USA"'s crimes against the people for openly passing out homophobic literature that fully competes with the worst Christian literature on the subject. Active defenders of the "RCP" should REALLY check out their history before claiming otherwise.
In addition, in the last program, the "RCP-USA" openly singled out gays/lesbians for elimination of their ideology instead of situating the problem in the problem of patriarchy as a whole. In practice, the "RCP-USA" has seen gay/lesbian life as a strictly ideological issue with no biological component.
People who read what the "RCP-USA" draft program says now can check the history of documents and see that the "RCP-USA" line has moved closer to the MIM line in words. (Key pages in the new program are 22, 106, 139) MIM has always stressed that there is no oppression of gays/lesbians that is compatible with communism, much less Maoism.
The "RCP" program would be a step forward on gays/lesbians if it came with principled self-criticism and practice correction. Quite the contrary, MIM has received another recent report from a gay who said he was denied membership and even kicked out of a bookstore by two different "RCP" city branches. This confirms what we have been told by a spokesperysn at a third "RCP" branch. What the homophobic anti-communist wing of the "RCP" will do with the current program is interpret its general statements about decadence and pleasure-focussed lifestyles as referring to making homosexuality a cardinal question, a dividing line question in practice, while denying it in public when MIM or allies criticize the "RCP." That is why public self-criticism and correction of past and current practice remain key on this question.
Clarification of existing line
In addition to verbal improvement on the question of homosexuality, we are going to give the "RCP" credit for clarifying its line in distinction with MIM's and ceasing its efforts to straddle the question of the class structure of the United $tates. The overall position of the "RCP" is clearly that "the single multinational class-conscious proletariat, including large numbers of the oppressed nationalities as well as the white proletarians, will fight consciously and directly under the proletarian revolutionary banner." (P. 30)
The new "RCP" program is much more honest and will serve as a good point of departure for those trying to distinguish MIM and the "RCP." The "RCP" is still revisionist, but much more honest in this program in ceasing to paper over difficult areas. There are a couple points in the program that some people could still mistakenly read to be inseparable from the MIM line, but overall the picture is clear.
One of those areas where the RCP-USA still has a little tokenist window-dressing concerns the international aspects of the united front where MIM has already criticized the "RCP" in print. On the question of the "Two 90/10s," the "RCP" moved closer to MIM line by stressing that the 90 refers to "unity with the '90 percent' internationally." (The word internationally is in italics.) (p. 55) People working within the "RCP" who understand the correctness of the MIM line would start from this point of the "RCP" draft program and expand it.
However, the "RCP" more than takes back its concession to internationalism with white nationalist illusions about how white people are necessary to the advent of the dictatorship of the proletariat. "Why must the class-conscious proletariat be oriented to unite the great majority, even though the balance of forces may be far from that at any given point? Because if the proletariat writes off potential allies, if it shrinks from waging that 'fight for the middle,' difficult as it is, then it will fall short in making revolution."(p. 56) Not surprisingly on the same page, the "RCP" admits that it is already planning on "concessions it might have to make to better-off strata in order to maintain their support."
Already in Lenin's day, Lenin found imperialist country workers demanding improvements in their own conditions to be counterrevolutionary. Yet here is the "RCP" USA saying that concessions have to be made yet again to the exploiters, in a country even more soaked in super-profits than the ones that Lenin was alluding to. It becomes very clear that the "RCP"-USA is fighting for something different than what MIM is fighting for. MIM concessions to better off strata will nonetheless entail eliminating the basis for their chauvinist ideas in excessive access to the means of production.
As to what the proletariat is, the "RCP"-USA has now moved openly to embrace their social-democratic brethren who had criticized them for excluding the labor aristocracy of the "smokestack industries." Now the "RCP" declares that "the proletariat is found in the 'smokestack' economy of auto, steel, machine tools production, etc."(p. 64) According to the "RCP," only 35% of the population "work force" is petty-bourgeoisie. (p. 67) The percentage that a supposed "Marxist" sees as petty-bourgeoisie in the major imperialist countries is a good measure of rightism and centrism. At 35%, the "RCP" is moving rightward but still closer to the centrists than most open Trotskyists claiming that 90% are proletarians and such nonsense to smuggle the bourgeoisie into the "Marxist" movement.
Not surprisingly, with the "RCP-USA" view of the class structure of the United $tates, reparations to the exploited and super-exploited Third World take the backburner, because "first priority to rebuilding and improving the ghettos, barrios, and depressed rural areas"(p. 17) of the United $tates is the "RCP-USA" line. In contrast, one of the first things Stalin did when the Red Army occupied imperialist Germany was to see to reparations--and that is the only example we have in history of conquest of an imperialist country by the international proletariat.
What white nationalism amongst those calling themselves Marxist always has in common is a denial that the majority of the white oppressor nation is from the exploiting classes--various sections of the bourgeoisie. Whether Trotskyist, crypto-Trotskyist or social-democratic the white nationalists calling themselves "Marxist" are so good at finding the problems with the national bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations, so excellent in following Martin Luther King into the swamp of reformist integrationism and so adept simultaneously and consistently in denying that white so-called workers are exploiters. Hence, when the "RCP" explained in detail (at least by its relatively snail-paced standards) that the class structure of the United $tates includes only a minority labor aristocracy, (p. 67) it was inevitable that the "RCP" USA would also find itself taking up a neo-colonialist line. MIM is only rather surprised to see this inevitable statement of line in the same document as the one that explained its political economy. Such honesty again deserves praise.
The Progressive Labor Party could hardly disagree with the "RCP" that "the outlook of the revolutionary proletariat and its vanguard party is and must be internationalism, not nationalism." Too bad for Avakian and crew that Mao said that the nationalism of the oppressed nation is "applied internationalism."
The most disgusting part of the "RCP" program is its open neo-colonialism. As if taking a page from MIM's definition of neo-colonialism, the "RCP" has decided to offer Blacks within U.$. borders a special deal. According to the "RCP" USA, Blacks and only Blacks are to have the right to declare nationhood.
This idea is so backward it is not something that one reads even in nationalist organizations that are 50% bourgeois and 50% proletarian in outlook. This sort of neo-colonialist line arises from the white petty-bourgeoisie, its liberal and pc elements, who have decided on behalf of the white nation that Blacks are the ones to be offered a special deal in order to divide and conquer enemies of white national oppression.
The whites have created various political fads and trends to prop up white national oppression. In the "RCP" version, it now becomes possible to speak of the people within the U.$. borders the following way: "The oppression of Black and other oppressed peoples in this country is not only a matter of racism, but even more fundamentally, of the oppression of nations and national groups." (p. 91) The "RCP" really does now mean Black and "other." Blacks get the special deal from the spokespeople for the white labor aristocracy, while the "others" are to have the screws screwed tighter on them. This is not something in the "RCP"-USA program where the "RCP" was referring to the specific details of the Black nation. This is something where the "RCP" intends a general line.
The nub of the whole question, and we advise careful reading, is that the "RCP" believes Blacks have the right to nationhood while the rest of the people of color have only the right to "autonomy." No where in the program does it discuss building the conditions whereby all peoples could decide whether they want to live in integrated societies or both integrated societies and separate nations. The "RCP" has not even attempted to address what MIM said in MT #7 on the national question.
The "RCP" says "the proletarian state, while favoring and encouraging unity and integration, must and will ensure formerly oppressed peoples the right to autonomy as part of the policy of promoting real equality between different nations and peoples." (pp. 95-6) Then the real kicker is: "In addition to the right of autonomy, for the Black nation there continues to be the right of self- determination, up to and including secession--that is, the establishment of a separate Afro-American Republic in the Black Belt South." (p. 26)
Aside from the ridiculousness of speaking of a hyphenated "Afro-American" nation, the formula of "the right to self-determination up to and including secession" is the traditional formulation of the national question since Lenin. The "RCP" has decided it applies only to the Blacks. Other open Trotskyists have decided it only applies to indigenous peoples and some have decided indigenous peoples plus Blacks, while the classic Trotskyist position is to deny all national struggles (except for that of the Ukraine when Hitler was about to invade). The permutations of the neo-colonialist line to preserve white national domination are extensive even within U.$. borders.
What is the reason that the "RCP" offers for this neo-colonial Blacks-only special deal--only that the Chicanos and Native peoples have overlapping land claims in the Southwest of what is now within U.$. borders. (p. 97) For this reason, the "RCP" says that Chicanos and Natives surrender the right to self- determination vis-à-vis the oppressor nation of imperialism. MIM sees in contrast some deals that have to be worked out amongst friendly nations if need be, if plebiscites by the peoples under a dictatorship of the proletariat of the oppressed nations over U.$. imperialism led by the proletariat decide that nation-states will form for the transitional socialist period on the way to a world with no borders or races and nations.
Finally, we should also mention that the "RCP" is back to its Cominternist line. Currently there are those on the Internet in denial about MIM's correct criticisms of this point. They deny that the "RCP" calls the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (which stole our name) a "center." These people in denial are opposing Stalin and Mao and lying to the people at the same time. The "RCP" says right in the program that "The RIM serves today as an embryonic center for the world proletarian revolution and is committed to forging a new Communist International that will even more broadly and powerfully unite the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist forces." (pp. 87-8)
With every passing year that the Third World parties of the RIM continue to live in harmony with "RCP" revisionism, those parties come closer to the day where they blow a chance to bring down U.$. imperialism for good. We have already indicated that we can infer from their description of the class structure how little the "RCP" intends to change the economy underlying expressions of racism and national chauvinism. Their examples of fighting racism and national oppression are invariably the equivalent of political preaching, shutting down assembly lines to talk for instance.(p. 92) No where does the program mention how internationalist reparations to the Third World are necessary to the people of the United $tates for their OWN political progress, to eliminate the material basis for the Amerikans' own anti-social, militarist and chauvinist thoughts-- for them to learn in economic practice what equality of peoples means and to learn in practice also what the basis of their own backward thought used to be as well as how cooperation is possible amongst various peoples. Any "Marxist" organization not talking about massive reparations by the ex-United $tates and similar imperialists and correction of the situation of super-exploitation today intends to change the names, but leave the game the same. A massive material basis for the restoration of imperialism will remain as long as the labor aristocracy continues to receive super-profits, whether called "socialist" when they receive them or not. Hence, we do not opportunistically write this scientific question off as one of "middle forces" anymore (even less) than we shirk telling Christians that they evolved from non-humyn primates. Not knowing the economic realities of today in the imperialist countries and soft-pedaling them as if this country were super-exploited like China or the Philippines means not knowing what the dictatorship of the proletariat is for and its tasks. It also means not understanding the material basis, the plan for how we are going to finally eliminate national chauvinism based in super-profits.
Even more importantly, the talk of immediate integration the day after socialist revolution, as if dominant nation people were ready for it without whole intervening stages of re-civilization under the dictatorship of the proletariat, unprincipled blabber about "middle forces" (by both the "RCP" and NISPOP revisionists), references to future revolutionary conditions in the "Two 90/10s" discussion, as if they described what had to be done today (the definition of ultra-leftism if there is one, like talking about the day of no exploitation to justify taking a soft line on the bourgeoisie today) and concessions of surplus-labor to the imperialist petty-bourgeoisie and denial of the exploiter status of the imperialist country majority is all spreading illusions instead of preparing for armed struggle. The "RCP" line and all those even more openly chauvinist must be defeated as part of hastening the People's Wars, not just in the imperialist countries some day but in the Third World today. Anti-militarist strategy in the imperialist country while a bedrock of principle will not win the Peoples Wars for the international proletariat. Anti-militarism will spread the more the dominator nations of imperialism are treated as enemy--as proved by the case of the Vietnam War in contrast with the Persian Gulf War. What is lacking anywhere in the "RCP" program is a statement of strategic confidence in the international proletariat and its oppressed allies. Like it or not, U.$. imperialism is going down, and the people within its borders are not decisive to that question, any more than the Germans were decisive to the fall of Hitler. The "RCP" type of centrism on the class structure and its neo-colonialism only delay the day when the international proletariat will rule.
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