by Bob Avakian
Revolutionary Worker #881, November 10, 1996
The first Big Question on the United Front Under the Leadership of the Proletariat (UF,LP): Why this strategy--why the need for uniting people not only among the basic masses but from other strata?
To come at this a certain way, we could paraphrase Mao, in "10 Major Relations".* In one of the sections of "10 Major Relations," he talks about the relationship between heavy industry and light industry. He says everybody is talking about the need to develop heavy industry, but if you're really going to develop heavy industry, if that's really what you want to do strategically, you also have to put some emphasis into light industry. He raises the question rhetorically: Is your desire to develop heavy industry genuine or feigned, strong or weak?
And, by analogy, we could say, in relation to why this strategy of UF, LP: Is your desire for proletarian revolution and communism genuine or feigned, strong or weak, shallow or deep? Because if the desire for proletarian revolution is where we're proceeding from and that's our strategic orientation, then we have to figure out what is necessary in order to accomplish that and we have to go about our work in order to bring into being what is necessary in order to accomplish that.
This poses the very basic question: What, after all, are we all about--what is our goal--and for what purpose are we working among the basic masses, for that matter? We're not social workers; we're not well-intentioned liberals, even though there's a place for that in a certain context. We're not simply people who come from the basic masses and feel that we should give something "back." Some of those sentiments are even admirable and have a positive role in a certain context, but they obviously don't deal with the enormity of the situation and the problems the masses are up against. And many of us went through that and arrived where we are, in terms of our position and outlook, by attempting to do those things in the first place and coming up against the limitations and the frustrations, and the impossibilities of doing anything substantial with a reformist outlook and program. That's one of the reasons we became revolutionary communists.
So, what after all, are we working among the basic masses for anyway? We're certainly not working among the basic masses so that we can accumulate some kind of capital, politically, with regard to other political trends or tendencies, or class forces, or the international movement or something. That's not what we're all about. So, why are we working among the basic masses? Is it for revolution--is it for all-the-way-liberating communist revolution--or for something else, something far short of that, no matter how it is dressed up?
Where are we coming from in the first place, and whose fundamental interests are we basing ourselves on? Are we basing ourselves on the interests of the proletariat and the masses of people, or some narrow and cliquish interests? And, if we're basing ourselves on the interests and the outlook of the proletariat and have the interests of the masses of people at heart and in mind--and the deeper we really apply that--the more we see the need to carry out the strategy of United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat and, as Lenin said in "What Is To Be Done," to go among all strata of the people.
This is opposed to a more narrow, economist,** sort of "more proletarian than thou" type of thinking that we're down with the basic masses and that's good enough. Well, it's not good enough. It doesn't conform to what the masses need from us and what they need objectively.
It is indispensable to integrate with the masses and to share weal and woe with them, as Mao put it. But the fundamental question is this: with what outlook and in the service of which interests are we doing this? Are we really proceeding from the fundamental interests of the masses, or from some more narrowly conceived notion of their interests, which falls far short of what they really need and what's really at stake?
What do we mean when we talk about "Fear Nothing, Be Down For The Whole Thing"? What is "The Whole Thing" and how does that set the framework for what we have to do? And what does it really mean to be "down" and "fear nothing"? Is it a question of having revolutionary courage and determination, based precisely on the interests and outlook of the proletariat, or is it a question of posturing and fronting? Obviously it has to be the former and not the latter. This is what we want to instill in our own ranks and what we want to instill in the masses.
So if our desire for proletarian revolution is genuine and not feigned, is strong and not weak, is deep and not shallow, then we really have to recognize the need to work, not only among the basic masses, and not only with the proletariat, but to go among all strata of the population, precisely so that the proletarian revolution can be achieved and that the mission of the proletariat can be realized.
If we're really seeking to serve the most fundamental interests of the masses and are basing ourselves on the stand, viewpoint, and methodology of the proletariat and its world-historic revolutionary mission, then we must see and will see the need for uniting all who can be united, for applying our strategy of United Front, Under the Leadership of the Proletariat.
* "On the Ten Major Relationships'' was a key speech given by Mao Tsetung in 1956--charting a path for developing China's economy in a revolutionary direction in order to begin to overcome inequalities between town and country and between industry and agriculture inherited from the old society. Today all these revolutionary policies of Mao have been overturned by the capitalist roaders ruling China. See Mao Tsetung's Immortal Contributions by Bob Avakian, Chapter 3.
** The term "economist'' here does not refer to an expert in economics. It is an MLM term for a political tendency which sees the central concern of the proletariat as the fight for wages and working conditions. Revolutionary communists hold that the central concern of the proletariat is the struggle to end all oppression and exploitation.