Revolutionary Worker #898, March 16, 1997
QUESTION: How does the Party practice the United Front in the U.S.? And, how does it define the United Front in the first place?
QUESTION: "Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class." This is a quote from the "Communist Manifesto." When it comes to the actual armed struggle for power, what does the communist revolution have to offer the petty boozhwah and the upper income strata of the proletariat to win them over, neutralize them or prevent them from going over to reaction?
THE CHAIRMAN ANSWERS: In a recent article in the RW, I pointed out that "The United Front Under the Leadership of the Proletariat is an orientation and a 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."* This is a strategy for nothing less than making revolution--seizing power and then moving on to radically transform society as part of the world proletarian revolution.
In other words, this is an orientation and method for working in such a way that, through a whole process and in relation to many important social questions and struggles, not only the masses of proletarians and poor people but the broadest possible numbers of the middle strata can be ultimately won to fight for, to support, or at least to have a stance of "friendly neutrality" toward the revolutionary struggle led by the class-conscious proletariat to overthrow this system and build a new system without exploitation and social inequality and oppression. Through reading the RW regularly, it is possible to get a sense of not only the basic principles of this UFuLP strategy but also the concrete work of the Party, seeking to unite as broadly as possible, to carry out this strategy in relation to many different key faultlines and battlelines in society: the fight against police brutality; the movement to prevent the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and to win his freedom, and the freedom of other political prisoners; taking on the increasingly open and outrageous "Big Brotherism" and police-state repression; opposing the heightening attacks on immigrants; the battle to defend and extend affirmative action; the defense of the right of abortion and other struggles against the oppression of women; the resistance of youth to the many ways the system seeks to stifle, suppress, and criminalize them and their creativity and daring and their defiant "attitude"; developing a culture of resistance and a revolutionary culture, and fighting back against the reactionary "cultural war" of the ruling class and its increasing suppression and censorship in this sphere; protest against the military aggression and bullying of the imperialist ruling class in many different parts of the world; and other arenas of struggle.
This UFuLP strategy is based on the reality that, first of all and fundamentally, the revolutionary outlook and interests of the proletariat represent the only way that a radical transformation of society can be brought about. It is also based on the fact that, in the final analysis, such a radical change is in the interests of the great majority of the people and therefore it is possible, as well as necessary, to win over the masses of the middle strata and to isolate and defeat the one force in society that has a fundamental interest in protecting and preserving the present oppressive social order--the ruling class of capitalist-imperialists.
With regard to the quote from the "Communist Manifesto" in the second question here, it is true that the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class in bourgeois society (and here we are not speaking about the inclinations and roles of particular individuals, but about the objective position and role of social classes). This, again, is why the United Front must be led by the proletariat. But the position and role of the middle strata in bourgeois society also mean that it is both possible and necessary to build such a United Front in which the Leadership of the Proletariat is established in practice.
The middle class in bourgeois society--broadly defined, including many different groups of small business owners, professionals and intellectuals, and also those referred to in this question as "the upper income strata of the proletariat"--does not, on its own and in pursuit of its own particular interests, have the basis, or the inclination, to bring about a radical overthrow of the present system and a truly radical restructuring of society. It does not have the basis to rule and recast society "in its own image"--in accordance with its own mode of existence and corresponding outlook. The aspirations characteristic of this "class"--which is really made up of various diverse strata--run, on the one hand, in the direction of tailing the bourgeois ruling class and its way of life and political system and values. But, on the other hand, real wealth and power, which is actually concentrated in the hands of the ruling big bourgeoisie, is an unreachable mirage for the masses of the middle strata, and in fact they are continually weighed down on, squeezed, and frequently crushed, or threatened with ruin, by the workings of the imperialist system and its actual economic and political power relations.
Because of the contradictory situation faced by these strata, they tend to vacillate politically, between the two major and contending classes in bourgeois society--the ruling bourgeoisie and the rising, revolutionary proletariat--siding now with one and now with the other. But, in the final analysis, these middle strata have no future under this system, and no future at all other than to unite with the proletariat and its struggle to seize power and revolutionize society and the world. This, again, is why it is both possible and necessary for the revolutionary proletariat to win over the broad masses of these strata through the course of the overall revolutionary struggle.
In addition, capitalism is characterized not only by class divisions and conflicts--and most essentially the contradiction and struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie--but also by colonial conquest and plunder, wars among rival capitalist powers, the subjugation of minority nationalities, the oppression of women, and many other inequalities and social contradictions, all of which gives rise to upheaval, resistance, rebellion, repeatedly bringing masses of people into political life, including among the middle strata. All of these contradictions can only be fundamentally resolved--all of this oppression and inequality can only be finally and completely eliminated--through the revolutionary struggle to overthrow and uproot capitalism and all relations of exploitation and oppression.
Thus, even though, at any given point, many people involved in these struggles may not yet agree with and take up the ideology and program of communism, all of these social contradictions and struggles objectively pose the need for the communist revolution. This is what Lenin meant when he said that "communism springs from every pore of society." And this strengthens the basis for the class conscious proletariat to unite in many different struggles with diverse groups and strata in society and to ultimately win the majority of society, including among the middle strata, to fight for, or at least to side with, the proletarian revolution.
The task of winning over the middle strata--and the process of unity-struggle-unity through which this is achieved--must be carried out both before the actual struggle for power, as well as during this struggle, and afterward in the new, socialist society. As Lenin pointed out, once the proletariat has smashed the military and political power of the old ruling class on the battlefield and consolidated the new, revolutionary political power, it is relatively easy to expropriate the big bourgeoisie--to deprive them of ownership of land and other means of production and of financial wealth and power--but it is a very different matter with regard to the numerous middle strata. It is necessary, Lenin emphasized, to live with and to transform these strata, in their material conditions and their world outlook, over a whole historical period, in order to carry out the socialist transformation of society and advance to communism, worldwide, as part of the international proletarian revolution. Throughout this entire period, it will be necessary to continue to apply the strategic UFuLP orientation, to correctly carry out that "complex and tortuous process of unity-struggle-unity" in accordance with and in order to fully realize the revolutionary outlook and interests of the proletariat.
As for the question of "what the communist revolution has to offer" these various middle strata, this specific question was spoken to, in a number of different aspects, in a section of a talk I gave a couple of years ago, "Persevering--To Make Breakthroughs," which was also printed in the RW (see Talkin' Revolution to the Middle Class RW No. 776). The basic answer is this: the communist revolution represents the road to a radically different society and a far better world for the vast majority of humanity, including the great majority in the middle strata in bourgeois society.
* (See "How Does the Proletariat Become Class Conscious and Uniting All Who Can Be United," RW No. 889, January 12, 1997, which is part of a series of articles on our Party's UFuLP strategy--United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat).
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