Draft Programme of the RCP, USA 

Draft Programme Part 2

The United Front 
Under the Leadership 
of the Proletariat

Part 2: Who Are Our Friends, 
Who Are Our Enemies?
A Brief Presentation of Classes in U.S. Society

Building the united front requires making a scientific estimate of the various classes and strata in U.S. society: who can be firmly united with, who can be won over or at least won to a position of neutrality, and the enemy that must be uncompromisingly struggled against and defeated.

Class Structure and Empire

The United States is the chief beneficiary and chief guardian of the world imperialist system. Everything about the U.S. economy, and everything about the class structure of U.S. society, is deeply im­printed with the international relations of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.

Consider occupations. Huge sections of the U.S. population are engaged in activities linked to the financial, administrative, communications, and technological needs of the U.S. empire. Or take the major cities in the U.S. To one degree or another, they function as headquarters of the worldwide operations of capital and require many service workers.

The standard of living of the middle class is very much connected to the dominant and exploiting position of the U.S. in the world economy. Better-off sections of workers receive benefits too.

But there is a lower section of workers as well. Many low-paid proletarians in the U.S. work as part of “production chains”—interlinked factories or service centers extending through Latin America or Asia and into the U.S. At the same time, globalization of production shifts employment from historically better-paid and more stable factory jobs in the U.S. to the lower-paid service sector. The U.S. econ­omy feasts on cheap overseas labor. Immi­grants from the oppressed nations of Latin America, Asia, and Africa are pushed and pulled into the worst and most degrading jobs in the U.S. economy.

This fact of empire has far-reaching political and strategic implications.

Because the wealth of the U.S. is inseparable from its privileged position in the world, there is a big basis for sections of the population to see their interests as lying with the preservation of empire. But this will be fiercely contested and fought out, because the U.S. is also a sharply polarized society.

For the have-nots on the bottom, there is a big basis to see their interests as those of the “wretched of the earth.” There is, in short, a social base for proletarian revolution and proletarian inter­nationalism in the “belly of the beast.”

The ruling class propagates a certain view of U.S. society. They tell us that the great, great majority of Americans belong to a prosperous and mobile middle class. Then there are the rich: icons of success and “role models” for those who would “work” as hard. At the bottom of society is what the bourgeoisie calls the “underclass,” which it characterizes as being made up of the lazy, the losers, the lawbreakers, and the dysfunctional—to be despised, ignored, and suppressed when necessary.

This distorted picture of society justifies the status quo, confuses the middle strata, and dehumanizes the exploited and oppressed. It conceals the real class relations in U.S. society and writes the proletariat out of existence.

So what is the reality of classes in this imperialist country?

The Bourgeoisie Is the Target of the Revolution and Must Be Overthrown

The ruling class of U.S. society is the bourgeoisie. This class owns and controls the principal means of production, dominates politics and the cultural and intellectual life of society, and enforces its rule through a dictatorship that combines repression with deception.

The core of the U.S. bourgeoisie is made up of the monopoly capitalists.

For example, they hold the controlling interest in the huge monopolistic corporations and banks that completely dominate the economy of the U.S. The 100 largest manufacturing corporations control close to half of all manufacturing assets (factories, equipment, materials, etc.). The top 10 banks control over 40 percent of all commercial bank assets (loans, other financial investments, etc.). Four companies control 70 percent of North America’s corn seed market.

The U.S. bourgeoisie presides over an empire. The economy of the U.S. is the “home base” of a global network of exploitation and plunder.

This empire is bound together by over $5 trillion in overseas investments; by repressive neocolonial regimes (independent in name only) in the Third World that U.S. imperialism props up; by global institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and WTO that it dominates; and by a high-tech, genocidal military machine.

The U.S. imperialists are responsible for untold suffering in the world and in the U.S. itself. They will stop at nothing to defend and extend their empire and to preserve their rule. Ask no mercy and give none in return: this is the only method the proletariat can employ in dealing with them.

The core of the U.S. bourgeoisie makes up less than 1 percent of the households in the U.S. The bourgeoisie also includes the numerically greater but less dominant and less significant capitalists; they do not have controlling interests in monopolies and large financial institutions or major international investments, but they depend for their income on the labor of substantial numbers of employees and accumulate large sums in the process.

Within the enemy camp and part of the target of proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship are the loyal political agents and enforcers of the bourgeoisie and its dictatorship. These are the big-time politicians, high-ranking military officers, heads of the government bureaucracies, and those in general who willingly perform the role of suppressing and terrorizing the masses of people: the police, judges, prison officials, etc.

The top heads of the trade union bureaucracy are also part of the enemy camp. They play a special role for the bourgeoisie in its efforts to maintain political and ideological domination over significant sections of the working class. They seek to confine the workers’ struggles within a bourgeois framework. They promote reformist illusions, faith in the “democratic process,” and “allegiance to America.”

The position and generally high sal­aries of the trade union leadership, and the capital accumulated and invested by the trade union bureaucracy, are the product of the history of exploitation of the masses of workers in this country and, still more, imperialist super-exploi­tation abroad. New faces may take charge of this apparatus, and tactics may change, but these top labor leaders continue to play the same essential role: attempting to keep the working class in a position of political-ideological subordination to the capitalist system.

The Working Class Is the Main and Leading Force for Proletarian Revolution in the U.S.

The Proletariat and the Proletarian Revolution

The proletarian revolution is different from all previous revolutions in human history. Its goal is not the replacement of one group of exploiters by another but the reorganization of human society and the whole world on an entirely new basis: the abolition of exploitation and of classes.

This long-held dream of the oppressed is now possible for two reasons.

First, the productive forces of society—the tools, raw materials, machinery, and technology, etc., as well as the people themselves and their knowledge and skills—have developed to a high level. They are developed enough to provide for everyone’s basic material needs throughout the world and, beyond that, for people’s all-around development.

Second, there is a class that has the material basis to bring about radically different relations of people in production and in society as a whole. That class is the proletariat.

The highly developed production process in capitalist society requires thousands, and ultimately millions, of people, working together to mass-produce the things that people need. Before capitalism, production was typically done by an individual or small groups of individuals. Today, many individuals must work together to produce almost everything (even a farmer working alone, who is an independent owner-operator and part of the middle class, requires tractors produced by the collective labor of thousands).

The proletariat carries out socialized production. But standing at the end of this process is a handful of capitalist-imperialists who privately appropriate (take for themselves) this collectively produced wealth.

The proletariat represents the cooperative labor and cooperative efforts overall that correspond to the highly socialized nature of the productive forces.

That is why the proletarian revolution aims to establish socialized, common ownership of the means of production. That is why this revolution aims to organize people in a cooperative way to carry out labor and to distribute what is produced not for individual profit, but with the overall needs of the people and the further development of society in command.

The proletariat is the only class capable of bringing about this radically different way of organizing and utilizing the productive forces and of organizing society.

Today’s productive forces are highly interconnected on an international level. This is the underlying reason why the proletarian revolution is an international revolution.

The proletarian revolution aims not only to abolish the division of society into different classes but also to overcome all inequality and oppressive relations between different peoples and nations and ultimately move beyond the division of the earth’s people into separate nations, replacing this with a world community of freely associating and cooperating human beings.

Because of its position in social production and in society, the proletariat has the material interest, the potential power, and the objective outlook to make a revolution that will abolish all forms of oppression and exploitation. No other force in society can lead the masses of people to real and complete liberation.

There Has To Be a Proletarian Class for There To Be a Proletarian Revolution… And There Is Such a Revolutionary Class

The ideologues of the bourgeoisie claim that new technologies have brought us to a “post-industrial society” in which the laboring classes are increasingly irrelevant—small in number and marginal to the functioning of society.

They act as if “bold investments” and computers guided by technicians somehow generate the vast wealth they like to flaunt. They don’t want to talk about the fundamental source of capitalist wealth: literally hundreds of millions of workers (as well as peasants and farmers) whom they dominate across the globe.

They prattle on about “financial cyberspace,” about how billions of dollars can be whizzed around the world “at the push of a button.” But they don’t want to talk about how goods are ultimately produced, warehoused, and transported, and ser­vices performed, in “real” space…requiring the efforts of “real” human beings…“real” wage-laborers…confronting capital at the local, national, and global level.

At the dawn of the new millennium, the proletariat is being formed and re-formed by the ceaseless drive of capital to expand and maximize profits. It is being formed and re-formed out of the diversity that is humanity—in the countrysides, shantytowns, and “megacities” of the poor and oppressed nations, and in the imperialist countries as well. The international proletariat is more numerous today than ever in the history of capitalism.

There Is a Revolutionary Class in the United States

There is a proletariat in the United States. It is part of an international class of wage-laborers whose labor is the foundation of capitalist production and whose exploitation is the source of capitalist wealth. It is a large segment of U.S. society. And it embodies the potential to destroy the old order and to revolutionize society as part of the world proletarian revolution.

The U.S. working class is extremely diverse and is made up of different strata and sections. The working class in the United States constitutes over 50 percent of the total labor force, numbering some 70 million wage-laborers. It includes 12 million manufacturing workers, several million other industrial workers, and far greater numbers in service, retail, and office work (both in the private and government sectors).

The proletariat is found in the “smokestack” economy of auto, steel, machine tools production, etc., as well as in expanding job categories such as cashiers, health services, and truck drivers. It is found in the “new economy” of information technology—from immigrant proletarians forging, fabricating, packaging, and shipping high-tech products to armies of data entry and service workers.

Many in the proletariat, and this is especially the case among oppressed nationalities and youth, are not regularly employed and often experience long spells of unemployment.

The great bulk of the unemployed are part of the working class. Even in the “best of times,” millions are unemployed and underemployed; and the numbers of the unemployed soar in periods of crisis.

Capitalism’s “reserve army of labor” is an essential and integral part of capitalist accumulation. The desperate circumstances of the unemployed exert downward pressure on wages and conditions overall—and these proletarians are available to be exploited in accordance with the dynamics and demands of capitalist accumulation.

Sizeable numbers of proletarians are cast into conditions of homelessness and hunger. Many are forced into desperate survival measures—working odd jobs and exchanging goods and services in the “informal economy” of the ghettos and barrios, or moving between jobs and “hustles” and semilegal activities.

Over the last 20 years, capitalism has been reshaped. There has been intensified globalization and massive centralization of capital. There has been technological transformation. There has been restructuring of employment and work relations, including attacks on the right to organize unions and bargain collectively.

But these changes, and the dislocations that have come with them, have not led to the disappearance of the U.S. working class but rather to its recomposition. This process of recomposition has involved the decline of more stable and better-paid strata, the expansion of low-wage service sectors, and the growth of more “flexible,” temporary, and part-time labor with little job security and few benefits.

The proletariat in the U.S. is highly multinational, consisting of Black, white, Chicano, Puerto Rican, various other Latino and Asian-American nationalities, and millions of immigrants from the Third World and elsewhere. The majority of the poor in U.S. society are white, but the oppressed nationalities have rates of poverty that are two and three times greater than that of white people.

Large sections of the proletariat work in segregated, caste-like conditions. They are slotted into and stuck in low-paying and less desirable occupations and jobs. Owing to the whole history of oppression by the ruling class, in various forms down to today, Black, Latino and other op­pressed nationalities and immigrants are dis­proportionately represented in the lower rungs of the proletariat and suffer high rates of unemployment, including high levels of more long-term unemployment.

Women hold about half of all working class jobs. In the last 30 years, the proportion of women in the overall labor force has risen dramatically—a result of the decline of real wages, the growing number of single-woman and single-mother households, and the assault on welfare and other social programs. At the same time, women have also sought work out of a desire to break out of the narrow confines of the home and to participate in society more broadly.

The large presence of women in the working class is a very positive factor for building revolutionary unity and for the revolutionary struggle overall. Women will play a critical role in the proletarian revolution.

So there is a proletariat in the U.S. All the vital goods and services, from food and clothing to telecommunications and computer chips, without which society could not last a day, are the product of the interlinked efforts of this class. The functioning of cities, from transport to janitorial services, depends on the proletariat.

Mobilizing Positive Factors

There are different strengths among different sections of the proletariat and basic masses in the U.S. A key task in forging the revolutionary movement of the proletariat is to combine these various strengths and give them class-conscious expression. What are some of these strengths?

There is the strength that comes from the situation of those proletarians working in socialized conditions—whether in large factories (about a third of all manufacturing workers are employed in factories with 500 or more workers); in smaller factories and sweatshops clustered together in industrial districts; or in hospitals, customer-service centers, and densely packed downtown office and hotel complexes.

These conditions bring with them an understanding of the need for discipline, cooperation, and organization, and broader social experience, including in some cases a mixing of nationalities. This gives potential backbone to the revolutionary movement.

There is the strength that comes from the life experience of those proletarians who are in and out of—or “locked out” of—the labor force, especially the youth of the inner cities. Their conditions of poverty, and the utter contempt the system has for them, give rise to alienation, volatility, and rebelliousness—which are necessary and vital ingredients for making revolution.

There is the strength that sections of immigrants from the poor and oppressed nations bring to the U.S. Many have a basic understanding of the crimes of U.S. imperialism; and some have direct experience in fighting it. This strengthens the basis for internationalism and bolsters the fighting potential of the proletariat.

The vanguard works to mobilize these and other positive factors.

At the same time, there are weaknesses that have to be countered as part of the process of bringing strengths to the fore. For instance, the condition of more regular employment can also have some conservatizing influences on workers (fear of losing the job, etc.).

Among the less regularly employed and more volatile sections, desperate life conditions result in some getting caught up in negative features of survival under this system. For instance, some young “semi-proletarian” males in the oppressed communities may have “one foot” in individualized non-proletarian and semi-criminal activities. Many of them are up against and to some degree fighting against the system. But for them to break with these semi-criminal activities and the outlook that goes with them, and to become conscious frontline fighters for revolution, the revolutionary movement has to help give their lives “revolutionary purpose.”

The point, again, is that the Party has to build on and give expression to strengths—and overcome weaknesses—in the context of building a revolutionary movement. The Party aims to bring together and “synthesize” out of the various working and living situations of different sections of the proletariat all positive factors that serve the cause of proletarian revolution.

Three Major Sections

The whole working class will not be won as a single bloc to the revolutionary banner. A decisive reason for this is that imperialism creates a “split” within the working class in the imperialist countries.

The upper sections of workers are tossed a share of the spoils of international plunder to corrupt them into defenders of the system. But only a relatively small number are permanently corrupted, while a much larger number experience only a temporary benefit at most.

In the U.S., there are three major sections of the working class.

There is a lower section of workers, numbering some 30 to 40 million, whose conditions of life and work are those of a downpressed proletariat.

In the words of the Communist Manifesto, they are: “a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital…. Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm…[the worker] be­comes an appendage of the machine…the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely to the means of subsistence that he needs for his maintenance [and to bring up future generations of workers]…. No sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by other portions of the bourgeoisie, the land­lord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.”

One of the characteristics of this lower section of workers in the U.S. today is the instability of its employment conditions. Not infrequently, these proletarians are tossed in and out of work and from job to job (and many are detached from work for extended periods).

Along with life-stealing job conditions, another characteristic of this section of workers is low wages. Take, for example, workers ages 25 to 54 who are in families with children. For 1 in 5 of them, their yearly earnings are not enough to keep a family of four above the poverty level. While some of these workers are in multiple-income families, even so, many of these families still have a standard of living at or just above the poverty level. All told, about half of all working class families experience poverty at least once in ten years.

This is life today for a sizeable section of workers whose conditions urgently demand proletarian revolution.

Proletarians from this lower segment work in factories and sweatshops, in fast-food and retail establishments and malls, in warehouse and distribution centers, in hospitals and offices, on construction sites. Many work as day laborers.

Agricultural workers are also part of this lower section of the proletariat. There are 2.5 million hired farmworkers in the U.S. They are crop workers and livestock workers (on dairy farms, ­ranches, etc.). They are regular and seasonal farmworkers. Of the 1.8 million crop workers in the U.S., 850,000 are migrant workers who travel a portion of the year in search of work. About half of all crop workers are undocumented immigrants denied elementary rights.

Agriculture in the U.S. combines technological sophistication with an agricultural proletariat that is subjected to intense exploitation, subhuman housing, exposure to toxic chemicals, and unrelenting attacks on its ability and right to organize unions.

The unity between agricultural workers and industrial/non-industrial workers in cities, and suburbs and small towns, will be a decisive question for the proletarian revolution. This unity will be essential in order to conquer both the urban areas and countryside, to feed and maintain the revolutionary army of the proletariat, and to proceed forward, upon winning victory, to transform society.

The proletarians from the lower section of the working class must be brought forward as backbone forces throughout the whole revolutionary process. And they will play a decisive role in the revolutionary insurrection.

Another section of the proletariat consists of relatively privileged “bourgeoisified” workers. These workers are concentrated especially in large-scale industries—-like auto and steel, heavy machinery, utilities, the postal service—and particularly where there have been strong unions.

This section of workers was built up after World War 2. As a result of the dominant position of the U.S. in the world, and coupled with the struggle of the masses, a big section of workers emerged whose jobs were relatively high-paying, with greater fringe benefits and opportunities for promotion, and with greater job security. Yet life was at best tolerable, not fine, for these workers.

Over the last 20 years, these workers have come under greater pressure from capital. Competition in the “global economy” has increased the compulsion of the capitalists to intensify the exploitation of these workers, to “downsize” their numbers, to undercut some of their privileges, and to create new “low tiers” of workers within these industries who receive lower pay and fewer benefits and protections.

The still better-off position of this more privileged section of workers, together with the special attention the imperialists will pay to keeping these workers in line, will tend to hold them back from being “the first to move.” But the bourgeoisie has changed “the terms of the bargain” for these workers. Also, there are significant numbers of oppressed nationality workers in these sectors. All this is creating a better basis to win these workers to the revolutionary cause.

A minority, but still significant number, of workers make up what Lenin called an “aristocracy of labor.”

These workers tend to be highly skilled craft and precision production and repair workers, employed in various industries from construction to telecommunications. They receive crumbs well beyond what has been passed along to the privileged sections of unskilled and semiskilled industrial workers in mass production industries. They have become a more or less permanently bourgeoisified group. While keeping the door open to winning some of these workers to the cause of revolution, the class-conscious proletariat must fiercely combat the influence of this labor aristocracy.

To sum up: Objectively, the proletariat represents the main material and political force for revolution in U.S. society. It is powerfully and strategically placed. Its interests correspond to, and it is the class capable of carrying out, the most radical transformation of society. And, for these reasons, it can be rallied to the cause of proletarian revolution and will provide the main forces for this revolution.

The Petty Bourgeoisie or Middle Strata

A critical question for the proletarian revolution is winning over or at least neutralizing as much of the petty bourgeoisie as possible. Comprising all the strata in between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, this is a very large and diverse group. It includes many different groups of small business owners, professionals, managers and technicians, intellectuals and artists, and small farmers who employ little or no wage labor. The petty bourgeoisie makes up about 35 percent of the U.S. labor force. In addition, there are some categories of technical workers and semi-professionals who occupy a kind of “grey area” between the petty bourgeoisie and the working class; they account for perhaps 5 to 7 percent of the labor force.

The bourgeoisie has built up the “middle class” to play a stabilizing and conservatizing role in society. And it pays considerable attention to maintaining the allegiance of these strata.

The bourgeoisie holds up as “models” the upper segments of the middle strata who enjoy relative stability and prosperity. It does this in order to promote grand hopes (and illusions). It also seeks to turn the insecurities and anxieties of broader sections of the middle class into fear and blame of the proletariat and oppressed masses.

Historically, sections of the petty bourgeoisie have acted as a social base for “law-and-order” and other reactionary movements. Left to their own, especially in times of social upheaval, sections are pulled to right-wing solutions in hopes of restoring stability and security and ­fortifying their privileges.

At the same time, there is the large number of “enlightened petty bourgeoisie” who historically have played important roles in radical and revolutionary upsurges, speaking out or acting against the savage injustices and inequalities and crimes of U.S. imperialism. However, while many in these strata want to fall on the progressive side of history, they are inclined towards illusions of reformism and pacifism in struggling against the system.

Today, there are significant numbers of people from the oppressed nationalities in the middle class. There are also large numbers of women in the professions. All this is a result both of changes in the U.S. and the world economy and of powerful struggles against discrimination and oppression. While in various ways this “middle class status” has a conservatizing influence, the continuing discrimination and abuses to which these oppressed groups are continually subjected propels many, even in the middle class, into resistance. This is overall an important positive factor for the proletariat in terms of realigning forces in society, including among the middle strata, in a way more favorable for the proletarian revolution.

Real wealth and power, which is actually concentrated in the hands of the ruling big bourgeoisie, is an unreachable goal for the masses of the middle strata. While sectors of the economy linked directly or indirectly to the explosion of “high tech,” legal and financial services, consultancy, etc., have expanded in recent years—other more traditional segments of the petty bourgeoisie are under economic pressure.

Many small farmers, sectors of small business people, teachers, nurses, and low-skilled technicians, and others have been squeezed or been put on an eco­nomic treadmill. Small business (including the “dot-com”) is inherently unstable in an economy dominated by monopoly capital and subject to capitalism’s fluctuations and structural changes.

Many within the middle class are forced to work harder and longer to maintain their lifestyles, homes, and health plans. Others face the specter of job displacement. Many within the “care-giving” professions, like health, or in fields like education, see their desires to serve people sacrificed on the altar of cost reduction, or perverted by growing standardization and routinization.

Because of the contradictory situation faced by these strata, they tend to vacillate between the ruling bourgeoisie and the rising revolutionary proletariat—siding now with the 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.


There are some 1.8 million farm owner-operators in the United States. 50 percent of U.S. farm products come from only 2 percent of the farms. But a significant portion of farm output—and this is especially the case for certain grains—is produced by a large number of small and medium-sized farmers who employ little or no labor.

Large capital, exploiting large labor forces, does operate directly in the farm sector—on giant farms harvesting fruits and vegetables, and functioning through other types of corporate enterprise.

But the main way monopoly capital dominates agriculture is by surrounding and controlling small and medium-sized farmers at the two ends of the farm cycle: at the seed, fertilizer, and machinery end, and at the processing and marketing end.

What little “independence” small farmers historically have had is rapidly diminishing. Many are going broke or barely getting by—under the pressure of “get larger or get out.” Many are farming land they have leased. Many are strapped by debt and derive the bulk of their income from off-farm activities. A significant number of these farmers are actually semi-proletarians who earn part of their livelihood by working as hired wage-laborers, even if often in fairly skilled ­categories.

Government support payments and crop-insurance programs, which go disproportionately to the largest farmers, do little to provide long-term security to small and even many medium-sized farmers. Poverty is widespread in considerable parts of the farm belts.

Growing numbers of farmers, such as in the chicken broiler sector, have become “contract farmers” to corporations. They still own some means of production but operate under production contracts that effectively mean that these farmers are buying nothing, selling nothing, and ­making few decisions about production. Here too semi-proletarian relations are emerging.

The main criterion of the proletariat in determining friends from enemies among the farmers is not the size of farms (though that will have to be taken into account to some degree). The essential criterion is whether or not and to what degree they exploit wage labor.

Some large farms, for example in grain, are worked entirely or overwhelmingly by their owner-operators (including the family), or may hire only a small number of laborers. On the other hand, some smaller farms—for example, in fruit and vegetables—employ significant numbers of wage laborers and depend mainly on these farmworkers for production.

In general, the revolutionary proletariat seeks to unite with those farmers who exploit little or no labor, on small, medium, or even large-sized farms.

While farmers in general cling to the outlook and illusions of petty proprietors, and while right-wing movements have taken root among some of them, the class-conscious proletariat must address the needs of small and medium-sized farmers (who do not exploit significant numbers of wage laborers). And it must bring significant numbers of them into the united front it is building. In the revolutionary war, the struggle for political and military control of the rural areas will be a crucial one. This struggle and the subsequent transformation of society cannot succeed without a base of support among the farmers (see the appendix “The New Socialist Economy, Part 2”).

The Government Sector

There are some 20 million government employees at the federal, state, and local levels. This is a broad and contradictory category.

One component represents the state in its control and repression functions: high and middle-level bureaucrats, the police forces, prison administrators and guards, etc. These elements will not only side with the bourgeoisie but are an important weapon of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat and oppressed masses. (Cops and prison guards, for example, are not in the working class—they are part of the bourgeoisie’s apparatus of dictatorship.)

The other major component of the government sector involves activities linked to the state’s overall role in the functioning of the economy and society. These activities range from research and development to education, health, welfare, and housing services to sanitation and transit. Many performing these activities are blue- and white-collar workers. Others are in the petty bourgeoisie.

In recent years, employees in the government sector have been victimized by “government downsizing,” reorganization, and other attacks. Social service cutbacks have also led to cuts in employment. Over the past 15 years, many workers in this sector have engaged in hard-fought battles.


This is the “broken” and criminal class of society. It is in fact drawn from different classes and has its upper and lower rungs.

Those at the upper end are heads of major criminal activities and organizations. They often have considerable legitimate business investment intertwined with their crime operations, and often they meld with the bourgeoisie.

At the lower rungs are full-time petty criminals. Desperation and poverty force many poor people into crime. But most of these people are not part of the lumpen segment of society. The lumpenproletariat is made up of those whose defining life activity, and world outlook, centers on criminal activity and ripping-off other people.

With the development of the revolutionary movement, and especially as it gains strength, some at the lower rung will be won to the side of revolution. This will be the case particularly when things reach the stage of revolutionary war. But winning them to the revolutionary cause will be possible only by exercising an absolutely firm hand and sharply struggling to instill in them the revolutionary outlook of the proletariat.

The top criminal operators are deadly enemies of the proletariat, and their crime organizations will be smashed by proletarian revolution.

Prisons and Prisoners

Who is in the prisons? Mainly proletarians and the poor. For what crimes? Mainly petty offenses linked to poverty. A massive program of criminalization of Black and Latino youth, and other youth as well, has resulted in a staggering increase in the prison population: more than 2 million, about a quarter of whom have been sentenced for nonviolent drug offenses.

At times, since the start of the so-called war on drugs, some major states in the U.S. have been spending more on prison construction than on education. The drug treatment programs much needed in society are few and far between.

The prison system is an instrument of bourgeois dictatorship designed to terrorize the masses broadly and to further degrade them. It offers no real retraining or rehabilitation but rather unspeakable brutality and, increasingly, slave labor. When prisoners rise up against these conditions, the proletariat unites with their just struggles.

The proletariat stands for the elimination of crime; the masses are its main victims. But crime and the ideology that goes with it are the outgrowth of capitalism. Crime can only be eliminated through socialist revolution. And the great numbers of those in prison will be rehabilitated through the revolutionary struggle to change the world.

In the process of seizing power, the revolutionary movement will storm the prisons, guns in hand, and offer the masses of prisoners the chance to join the revolutionary army. It will unite with those who take this road, unleash and guide their tremendous hatred for this system, and lead them in struggle to remold themselves into fighters for proletarian revolution.

Summing Up

A basic analysis of the main forces in U.S. society leads to these general conclusions:

In order to carry out socialist revolution, the proletariat must and will be the main and leading force.

The bourgeoisie, with the monopoly finance capitalists as the main force, is the target of the revolution. It must be overthrown and suppressed. This enemy will find firm support and shock troops particularly among the “labor aristoc­racy” and reactionary sections of the petty bourgeoisie.

The main and closest ally of the proletarian revolutionary movement is the struggles of the oppressed peoples for equality and emancipation. (See the appendix “Uprooting National Oppression and White Supremacy.”)

The class-conscious proletariat can and must, through its revolutionary work and the forging of its united front, win over to active support, or at least to “friendly neutrality,” large sections of the petty bourgeoisie, and even a section of the labor aristocracy, especially as the revolutionary movement further develops and grows more powerful (and some of the lumpenproletariat can also be won over).

This represents the basic class and social content of the united front under proletarian leadership, as the strategy for proletarian revolution. This strategy enables the proletariat to determine friends from enemies. It enables the proletariat to unite its own ranks, win over its allies, isolate the enemy, and ultimately defeat it.

The proletariat must build the broadest united front to attack and overthrow this enemy and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. It will then continue the revolutionary struggle, leading broad ranks of the people to transform both their material conditions and their world outlook in accordance with the advance to communism.

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Este artículo se puede encontrar en español e inglés en La Neta del Obrero Revolucionario en:
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