Draft Programme of the RCP, USA 

Draft Programme Part 2

The United Front 
Under the Leadership 
of the Proletariat
Part I:  Why and How the Proletariat Builds 
and Leads the United Front

For a revolution to succeed in the U.S., a vast and diverse array of forces will have to be brought into the field of battle. For a revolution to succeed in the U.S., these forces will have to be united under the uncompromising revolutionary leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard party.

The united front 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. This united front is built in the midst of struggles and in relation to key political and ideological issues and conflicts in society.

In the specific conditions of U.S. society, the heart of the united front is the alliance between the struggle of the proletariat of all nationalities to end all oppression and exploitation through proletarian revolution and the struggles of the Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Native American, and other oppressed nationalities against their oppression as peoples.

Why must the class-conscious proletariat mobilize the strength and determination of different sections of people? In short, because the revolutionary proletariat is serious about winning, in the fullest sense.

In a country like the U.S., it will not be possible to launch and successfully wage armed insurrection without a vast array of allies in broad and diverse segments of society. Without this, how would the insurrection break out of and break through the efforts of the enemy to contain, suppress, and annihilate the insurrection in its initial strongholds in the urban cores—and seize countrywide power?

And after the proletariat has seized power, it will not be possible to carry forward the transformation of society as part of the worldwide proletarian revolution unless the class-conscious proletariat unites with, engages, struggles with and leads these broad and diverse strata. And, over a whole period, the proletariat must bring about a radical change in their material conditions and world outlook—in accordance with the final aim of abolishing class distinctions altogether with the achievement of communism worldwide.

Bringing About a Favorable Repolarization

Right now, the alignment of forces in U.S. society is not the one needed to make proletarian revolution. Alignments, however, can dramatically shift, and relatively suddenly, in response to major changes in international, political, social, and economic conditions. (This happened, on a vast scale, in the U.S. during the 1960s and early ’70s.) But the class-conscious proletariat does not passively await changes in objective conditions. Align­ments are consciously “worked on” by the two major class antagonists in society—the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The bourgeoisie, as the ruling class, works to create and maintain a “reactionary polarization.” It does this through force and threat, through political manipulation and deception, through media lies and ideological campaigns calculated to provoke confusion, fear, and misguided resentment among various social strata.

In particular, the bourgeoisie aims to enlist the support of the middle strata for its attacks on the basic masses—from social spending cuts to heightened police-state repression, from anti-immigrant measures to the reinforcing of segregation and discrimination. In all of this, the ruling class tries to deflect the anger and anxiety of many in the middle class away from the system and towards the exploited and oppressed masses. This “reactionary polarization” serves to fortify the oppressive rule of the bourgeoisie by maintaining the “loyalty” of different strata and isolating those on the bottom of society, seeking to convince them they will have no allies when they fight back.

The proletariat, through the leadership of its party, seeks to bring about a favorable repolarization. It aims for an alignment in which large sections of society, including among the numerically large middle strata, come to see their fate as being tied to that of the proletariat, and can ultimately be won to support, or at least not oppose, the revolutionary overthrow of imperialist rule. Revolutionary work today is aimed at this strategic objective, and is in fact impacting the political terrain precisely in this direction.

Many in the middle strata in the U.S. enjoy considerable privileges under this system and do not readily identify with the oppressed in the U.S. and other parts of the world. But radical change is in the fundamental interests of the great majority of people in U.S. society. They will gain far more than they will lose through proletarian revolution—not only the economic security and social well-being that capitalism cannot fundamentally provide but, even more importantly, a meaningful and liberating social existence.

So the bourgeoisie and the proletariat wage a “fight for the middle.”

The “Two 90/10s”

It is not possible to know, in advance, where all the different social strata and forces will line up when the showdown comes. That will be determined by the actual event. But the class-conscious proletariat must aim to win over the great majority.

Our Party calls this the strategic orientation of the “two 90/10s.” That is, the class-conscious proletariat must seek to win over the “90 percent,” whose fundamental interests ultimately lie with proletarian revolution, against the “10 percent”—the ruling class and its die-hard supporters—within the U.S. while doing this in unity with the “90 percent” internationally, the great majority of the people of the world who suffer exploitation and oppression under the domination of imperialism and its allies and puppets.

It must be recognized that there are significant contradictions involved in these “two 90/10s”—contradictions which at times can become quite acute. In a country like the U.S., the requirements of upholding and applying proletarian internationalism and acting in accordance with the interests of the “90 percent” of the world’s people can, in a number of circumstances, bring the class-conscious proletariat into conflict with the more narrow interests of segments of society, particularly the more privileged strata.

In order to correctly handle these contradictions—and the often acute “tensions” involved—the proletarian vanguard must at all times keep uppermost the fundamental interests of the proletariat and masses of people worldwide and at the same time persevere, from a strategic standpoint, in its work to win over the broadest number from all strata among the people.

It must also be firmly grasped that this “90/10” orientation does not mean that it is first necessary to win over the great majority of the people before waging the all-out struggle to seize power. Even in the context of a revolutionary crisis, it is likely that far fewer than 90 percent will be in the camp of the revolutionary proletariat at the time when the armed insurrection must be launched. To “wait for the majority” under those circumstances would mean a historic opportunity would be lost and the proletariat would suffer a devastating setback.

Such an insurrection, and the civil war to follow, must indeed be the act of ­masses of people—it must involve millions in fighting and supporting this people’s war—or it will have no chance of success. But it is important to keep in mind that one of the distinguishing features of revolutionary war—including armed insurrection as well as civil war—is that a large part of those who are ultimately won to support the revolutionary side may at first be inactive, be at best in a position of “friendly neutrality” toward the revolutionary war, or may even at the start be in, or inclined toward, the enemy camp.

About one thing there should be no illusion: Revolution in this citadel of imperialism will have as one of its defining features the clash between “two sections of the people.” The bourgeoisie will mobilize substantial numbers behind its reactionary banner from among sections of the middle class and even from the working class.

The revolutionary proletariat must work, all throughout the process preceding the development of a revolutionary situation, to win allies as broadly as possible and to lay the strongest basis for winning still broader numbers once the struggle for power has begun. It must dare to launch the revolutionary war when the time is ripe, and it must persevere in fighting, defeating, and dismantling the imperialist army and counter-revolutionary forces drawn from among backward sections of the people at any given time. But it must also persevere in the orientation of seeking to win increasing sections of the people away from the enemy camp and into the revolutionary camp as the revolutionary war advances.

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. It will undermine its ability to bring about the most favorable alignment of forces, both in particular situations and in the overall process of the revolution; it will seriously undercut its ability to carry out its historic revolutionary mission.

International Factors

The united front within the U.S. must be built as part of a worldwide struggle to overthrow imperialism and all reactionary forces. It is being built in a world context in which national economies are highly integrated, in which political struggles and revolutionary movements in different parts of the world can have enormous international repercussions.

For instance, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, the Vietnamese war of liberation against U.S. imperialism spurred forward and helped give a revolutionary edge to the Black liberation struggle and radical movements among other sections of the people in the U.S. itself.

The international situation will greatly influence the conditions and prospects for revolution in the U.S. Important international factors include whether the imperialists are bogged down in wars, the advance of revolutionary wars and the inten­sity of revolutionary upsurges around the world, whether turns in the world economy are resulting in major economic dislocations, and whether victorious revolutions have led to socialist states.

The international situation will also greatly affect the development of and forms of alliance within the united front in the U.S. It will affect the specific character and degree of unity with the middle strata, the alignment within the broader working class itself, and the concrete policies that a successful revolution might have to adopt, including the concessions it might have to make to better-off strata in order to maintain their support.

The Basis for the United Front

U.S. society is teeming with contradictions and struggles: Repression and inequality faced by Black people and other oppressed nationalities, patriarchy and subjugation of women, attacks on immigrants, the alienation experienced by youth, economic pressures on the middle class, the demeaning of intellectuals and artists by the dictates of commercialization. These and other contradictions and struggles have specific historical features and particular social dimensions, but they are all bound up with the fundamental nature and fundamental contradiction of the capitalist-imperialist system. Herein lies the material basis for building the united front.

Broad social movements are critically important to the revolutionary process. Not only do they draw diverse sections of society into political life and struggle, but they also affect the proletariat. These movements draw proletarians into the struggle, and they influence the political atmosphere and terms of debate in society. This helps to awaken and embolden the proletariat.

So while the vanguard works to maximize the development of a revolutionary movement and revolutionary political atmosphere at the base of society, among the most exploited and oppressed, it also works to maximize the radical thrust and society-wide impact of social movements among middle strata.

The class-conscious proletariat aims to direct the many streams of resistance against the enemy, and to unite these streams into a powerful revolutionary torrent. The united front is not about “wheeling and dealing” among political operatives for short-term advantage, nor is it the politics of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It is a strategy for revolution, the class alliance to overthrow imperialism.

Maintaining Independence and Initiative in the United Front, Struggling for Leadership

The proletariat must “unite all who can be united.” But without the initiative and independent role of the class-conscious proletariat, the unity that is built with other class forces will not be as broad or as powerful as it can and must be. The proletariat, through its vanguard party, must strive to lead the united front. And unless the proletariat does achieve overall leadership of the united front, the united front will not serve revolution and the interests of the masses will suffer.

It is not as though this work of building the united front is carried out in a ­vacuum. Other class forces and programs contend for leadership of mass struggles and movements. Forces arise from the middle strata which often bring forward positive contributions, but also proposals and programs which represent the “in-between” position and vacillating character of the middle class. In addition, the bourgeoisie also has its political operatives, who consciously attempt to disrupt alliances among the people and steer the movement into bounds acceptable to the bourgeoisie.

The proletarian party has to analyze and sort out these different kinds of contradictions (which can often be tangled up together and confusing). It has to carry on the appropriate kinds of debate, discussion, and criticism of the different programs in the field, and work to point the spearhead of the struggle against the ruling class, uniting all who can be united and making sure that the interests of the proletariat and oppressed masses are protected and advanced.

Political leadership cannot be won if the proletarian vanguard acts in a disdainful and standoffish way towards forces with which it should be working to build unity. But neither can this leadership be won if the vanguard fails to distinguish the outlook and programme of the revolutionary proletariat from those of other class forces. Nor will leadership be won if the vanguard abandons the strategic revolutionary interests of the proletariat in the name of meeting the demands of any particular situation or preserving the unity of any particular struggle.

It would be wrong, it would cut off potential allies, to insist that revolution be the basis of unity and dividing line in mass struggles, movements, and organiza­tions in today’s conditions. But, while uniting broadly with many diverse forces for objectives short of revolution, the Party must, at every point and all along the way, boldly bring forward the banner of proletarian revolution and seek to win increasing numbers of people to this banner.

In all the work of developing the United Front under the Leadership of the Pro­le­tariat, the Party must pay systematic attention to building organized ties among different sections of the people. This has great strategic implications. (For a further discussion of this, see the appendix “Create Public Opinion, Seize Power….”)

The Party must also pay systematic attention to bringing forward and recruiting the most advanced fighters into its ranks. This is of decisive importance in strengthening the ability of the proletariat to broaden the united front and to win leadership within this united front.

Through the carrying out of this strategy, and through the twists and turns of this overall process, the proletariat increasingly comes forward under its own revolutionary banner, in particular battles and in the struggle as a whole. It increasingly mounts the political stage as a more and more class-conscious and powerful force. It develops its political understanding. It gains a deeper sense of its own class interests and politics, and of the strengths and weaknesses of other classes and strata whom it must unite and lead in order to make revolution.

The Strategic Orientation in Building the United Front

An important objective in building the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat is to move people from being “fighters on one front” to becoming “fighters on all fronts.” People must be won to see that all the profound outrages in society and throughout the world stem from the same source: the capitalist-imperialist system and the rule of the bourgeoisie.

The united front, then, is not static but something dynamic and in motion. New forces repeatedly come forward, while others previously involved move to a more advanced position (and some others fall back, at least temporarily). And, as the contradictions of the imperialist system intensify, including as a result of advancing revolutionary struggles throughout the world, the sentiments of masses of people and their political orientation and activity undergo radical changes. As things approach and then reach the level of a revolutionary crisis, it then becomes possible, and necessary, to win very broad ranks of the people, not only among the proletariat but among other strata as well, to the revolutionary position.

At times like this, the strategic objectives embodied in the line of the Party will represent the immediate answer to the burning problems of the day, and will be seen as such by large sections of the people. It will then be the mass line—capable of galvanizing and mobilizing millions—that the urgent demands of the masses are only realizable through revolution.

At this point, the lines and programs of other forces, representing objectives and “solutions” other than proletarian revolution, will be increasingly shown to fall far short of meeting the urgent needs and demands of the masses. Those who insist on clinging to these lines and programs will be increasingly paralyzed politically—and/or will be shown to be clearly in the camp of imperialism and counter-­revolution.

As this develops, through a combination of the intensifying objective contradictions and the all-around work of the Party, the basis of unity of broad mass movements and organizations, and of the united front as a whole, can and must be revolution: the all-out struggle to seize power under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard.

This is the fundamental orientation with which the Party must carry out its strategy of United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat.

The Key Alliance for Making Revolution in the U.S.

The most important and strategic alliance for making proletarian revolution in the United States is the alliance between the struggle of the proletariat, of all nationalities, to end all oppression and exploitation through the overthrow of capitalism and the advance to communism worldwide and the struggles of Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Native American, and other oppressed nationalities to end their oppression as peoples.

The Party calls this the solid core of the united front under proletarian leadership. It is crucial to the victory of the socialist revolution in this country.

The whole history and development of capitalism in the U.S. down to today is bound up with national oppression. Na­tion­al oppression is built into the foundation of capitalist society in the U.S. and the whole structure of U.S. imperialist rule and domination in the world. (See ap­pendix “UprootingNational Oppres­sion and White Supremacy” for a detailed analysis of this point.)

National oppression hits those on the bottom the hardest, but it affects all ­classes and strata of the oppressed nation­alities. This oppression has given rise to distinct national struggles and movements which have shaken the imperialist system and inspired broad sections of the population.

From the slave rebellions through the Civil War all the way up to the L.A. Rebel­lion of 1992, this has been an Achilles heel of U.S. imperialism. This was never more evident than in the historic struggles of the 1960s.

In the April 1968 weekend following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Black people in over 100 cities rebelled, fighting police, National Guard, and the Army itself. Around that same time, the Black Panther Party burst onto the scene and won hundreds of thousands of youth of all nationalities to see the need for revolution.

The Black liberation struggle sounded a clarion call to other oppressed nationalities, and revolutionary and radical organizations developed among Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. These struggles, and the support they garnered from all corners of U.S. society (including large numbers of white people) and even internationally, shook U.S. society to its very foundations.

Much of the ruling class’s social policy today, beginning with its severe police-state measures directed at the ghettos and barrios, is based on its fear of an even more powerful wave of such struggles, the basis for which could be seen again in the L.A. Rebellion in 1992. All this points to the great potential power of the movements of the oppressed nationalities against their oppression as peoples.

At the same time, the oppressed peoples are to a large extent part of the single multinational proletariat in the U.S. Blacks and Latinos make up over 30 percent of all machine operators, assemblers, and laborers, and are heavily concentrated in hospitals, health care, building services, and other sectors essential to the generation of profit and the maintenance of capitalism. They suffer dual oppression —national oppression and oppression as part of the multinational proletariat. This is a potentially explosive combination which puts proletarians from the op­pressed nationalities in a crucial position in the process of proletarian revolution.

The oppressed peoples in the U.S. are a tremendously powerful force for revolution. Their fight for equality and emancipation is bound by a “thousand links” with the struggle of the proletariat for socialism and lends great strength to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat.

The only solution to national oppression is the overthrow of imperialist rule. That is to say, while national oppression has its own dynamic and will have to be resolved through particular measures and policies of the proletarian state to end inequality, it is only through proletarian revolution—first of all the seizure of power but beyond that the thoroughgoing transformation of society and the whole world to achieve communism—that national oppression (as well as all other kinds of oppression and exploitation) can be finally uprooted and abolished.

The class-conscious multinational proletariat, including large numbers of the oppressed nationalities as well as white proletarians, will fight consciously and directly under the proletarian revolutionary banner. Others from the oppressed nationalities will fight as part of national movements, under various banners. The forging of the alliance of these two forces, around a program only realizable through and serving the proletarian revolution, will be of decisive importance for the victory of the socialist revolution in the U.S.

Forging the Solid Core

The Party must work to forge this solid core well before the revolutionary crisis erupts. Throughout the process of preparing for such a crisis, the Party must be making leaps forward in building and strengthening the links between the revolutionary movement of the class-conscious proletariat and the struggles of the oppressed nationalities against their oppression as peoples.

Historical and continuing national oppression and sharp conditions of inequality, along with the constant ideological barrage of white chauvinism (racism), have given rise to real national divisions within the U.S. working class. Combating this is a crucial part of the revolutionary struggle.

The class-conscious proletariat must build the struggle against national op­pression by working at it from two sides—within the movements of the oppressed peoples and among the proletariat of all nationalities.

From one side, it must unite with the struggles of the oppressed nationalities and fight for the line and outlook of the revolutionary proletariat within them. The proletariat’s representatives must support the most militant and uncompromising resistance against national oppression, and build ties especially with the most determined fighters in these struggles.

These national movements involve broad class forces from the oppressed nationalities, including middle class people who are very much in the cross-hairs of national oppression—from racial profiling to attacks on affirmative action. Their activism and resistance are positive factors for revolution. But ideologically, these forces incline towards reformism and nationalism. Sections of the Black bourgeoisie, hemmed in and restricted by monopoly capital, and also subjected to discrimination and racist abuse, may also be compelled to align with the people. As capitalists, however, they fundamentally seek markets and the ability to exploit workers for profit.

These class forces are objectively part of the national movements and will, through political representatives, contend for influence and leadership in these movements. But if the outlooks of these class forces are in the leading position, the fundamental interests of the exploited and oppressed will be compromised.

So again, while the revolutionary proletariat seeks to unite as broadly as possible in these movements, it must maintain its independence and initiative and actively bring forward its revolutionary line and programme. In doing this, it relies on the proletarian masses within these movements.

On the other hand, there is the even more fundamental task of bringing the class-conscious proletariat of all nationalities into the front ranks of the fight against all oppression—including, as a crucial part of that, the fight against national oppression. With this understanding, in its bedrock work among the proletariat, especially the most exploited sections, the Party puts great emphasis on building the fight against white supremacy and national oppression and on mobilizing white proletarians, together with proletarians from the oppressed nationalities, in this fight.

This takes concrete expression in the exposure of national oppression that the Party carries out, especially through its newspaper. It also takes expression in mass struggles against various forms of national oppression: police brutality; the ruling-class policies of building prisons instead of schools and turning schools, as well as housing projects, into prisons; cuts in social welfare programs; the many-sided attacks on immigrants and chauvinistic “English-only” campaigns and other at­tacks on the languages and cultures of Latinos and other oppressed peoples; the continuing oppression of the Native Amer­ican peoples; and the fight for the freedom of political prisoners, many of whom come from national movements.

The class-conscious proletariat builds the fight around these issues as part of building the struggle against all oppression, with the goal of overthrowing the source of all this oppression: the capitalist-imperialist system.

The battle against national oppression is a crucial arena and a pivotal part of building the revolutionary movement, uniting the proletariat and masses of people around their real revolutionary interests, and laying the basis to wage and win the armed struggle when the time is ripe. Again, only proletarian revolution can thoroughly uproot national oppression.

Summing Up

The class-conscious proletariat of all nationalities must take the lead in forging and strengthening the solid core and building the united front as broadly as possible. The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat is the strategy for overthrowing the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and then continuing the struggle to transform society as part of the world proletarian revolution.

Chairman Avakian explains the united front in these terms: “The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat is an orientation and method, a strategic approach, for the realignment of class forces—the strategic realignment of class forces, in which the interests and outlook of the proletariat are brought to the forefront and established in the leading position through a complex and tortuous process of unity-struggle-unity.”

The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat is anything but a short-term gimmick. It has long-term implications, not only for the seizure of power but also for the continuing struggle to achieve communism. In carrying out this strategy, the proletariat gains an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different classes and becomes conscious of itself as the class with the most fundamental and thorough interests in making revolution.

In applying its unity-struggle-unity orientation toward other forces which it strives to unite, and to lead, the proletariat strengthens its capacity to be the leading force in the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and ultimately its ability to rule society and lead others in remaking the world. The proletariat learns, as Lenin says, how to live alongside and transform other strata, both in their material conditions and their world outlook, over a whole historical period of continuing revolution, towards the ultimate goal of communism, worldwide.

This is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online:
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