Manifesto for Revolutionary Liberation: Chapter VI. Work in Mass Organizations and the United Front Tactic



The necessary struggle against reformism and populism must under no circumstances be confused with any form of sectarianism towards the mass organizations of the working class. In a period of rising class struggle, in light of the dominance of reformist and populist bureaucracies in workers’ and popular mass organizations on the one hand, and the small size of authentic revolutionary forces on the other, the application of the united front tactic plays a central place in the revolutionaries’ arsenal. It is a fundamental element in achieving the strategic goal of breaking the working class away from the treacherous labor bureaucracy. Such tactics must be focused on practical activities and should include mobilizing and organizing ordinary members, placing demands on leaders, warning the workers against having any illusions in the bureaucratic leadership, in addition to independent agitation and propaganda. Thus, the united front tactic must go hand in hand with the sharp denunciation of the entire bureaucracy, reformist and/or populist, and the steadfast refusal to form any strategic bloc with any ostensibly “left” faction of the bureaucracy. This is the only way to defend the political independence of the working class from all bourgeois influence.


It remains crucial to work within the unions and other workers’ and popular mass organizations in order to revolutionize them. Communists should therefore organize themselves into factions and assist in building a broad rank-and-file movement to fight against the privileged bureaucracy and to ultimately oust it. However, revolutionaries are also aware that the unions usually organize only a small minority of the working class. In addition, unions are often dominated by the labor aristocracy or by the more affluent sectors of the proletariat. Hence, it is crucial during struggles to use all opportunities to form factory committees and similar bodies in order to broaden the base of organized workers. Furthermore, revolutionaries must strive to organize the lower strata of the working class and the oppressed layers within the unions as well as ensure that representatives of these layers achieve leadership positions so that the dominance of the aristocratic layer can be eliminated.


Such an orientation to the lower strata of the working class and the oppressed is particularly crucial in the present period, when many social democrats, Stalinist and centrist parties are more than ever dominated by sectors of the labor aristocracy and middle class intellectuals. This has resulted in the creation of a culture of “elitism” and “aristocratism” within the petty-bourgeois left milieu, rife with arrogance towards the lower strata of the proletariat, the migrants and the oppressed, and totally isolated from these sectors.


In contrast to such elitism, the RCIT directs its efforts in building revolutionary parties primarily to the proletariat of the South and to the lower strata of the working class and the oppressed in the imperialist countries.


The decline and degeneration of the reformist parties, the complete absence of any workers’ party in many countries, and the intensifying class struggle all make the application of the united front tactic in the field extremely urgent. In countries, where no bourgeois workers’ party (not even a reformist one) exists or where the existing bourgeois workers’ parties are already so degenerated that they repel the workers’ vanguard, revolutionaries call upon the workers’ vanguard and mass organizations to found a new workers’ party (or “Labor Party”). In the struggle for such new workers’ parties, interim stages are certainly conceivable. Revolutionaries might initially support alliances towards such a goal or the foundation of new organizations of oppressed layers (e.g., migrant organizations) which could also stand at elections. In addition, entry into existing reformist or petty-bourgeois parties as a faction, on the basis of a revolutionary program, is also a legitimate tactic.


We have seen attempts to found new workers’ parties in Brazil in the 1980s and currently in South Africa and Bolivia. The Brazilian example of Lula’s PT demonstrates that revolutionaries have to fight against the danger of a reformist degeneration of any new workers’ party. They should do so by counterposing a revolutionary strategy, i.e., a full transitional program, as the program of the party, against the more “mainstream” reformist program. Revolutionaries should found a revolutionary tendency within such a party which will fight for the leadership of the party by exposing the betrayal of the reformists and the centrists in actual struggles. This can be done by putting forward a set of appropriate minimum and transitional demands which will unify and mobilize the workers and the oppressed against the capitalist class enemy. On such a basis, revolutionaries should use the tactic of the united front with other forces against the common enemy according to the principle "march separately, strike together."


However, revolutionaries must not be ultimatists. In other words, they don’t enter such a labor party, present their program and, if rejected, immediately leave the party. Such a sectarian tactic would only be in the service of reformist forces trying to control the party. Communists must attempt to win over rank and file workers and youth and left-wing forces within the party by proposing concrete campaigns which help to advance the class struggle and the political development of the party in a militant, socialist direction.


Of course, sooner or later the party will stand at a crossroads: either it will develop in a revolutionary direction and become a truly socialist party or it will degenerate bureaucratically and be transformed into a reformist force. When revolutionaries prove too weak to halt the reformist degeneration of such a party, they will be obliged to split away from it.