Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Black Workers Congress

Class Struggle and the Black Liberation Struggle: Who Will Lead?


First Issued: April 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory play a the principal and decisive role in those times of which Lenin said, “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” When a task, no matter which, has to be performed, but there is as yet no guiding line, method, plan or policy, the principal and decisive thing is to decide on a guiding line, method or policy. – Mao Tse-Tung

The former executive secretary and member of the Central Committee, James Forman, of the Black Workers Congress, was recently expelled from the organization.

Right from the beginning, the BWC has been actively involved in a struggle “between the two lines” over the urgent tasks, guiding line, method, plan or policy as referred to above in the quotation from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. The understanding of the meaning of these various struggles in the BWC has only recently begun to become clear even to the members of the leadership of the BWC, as well as many cadre throughout the organization.

In the course of these various struggles, the identification of a high flying camp of the petty bourgeoisie revealed itself more and more to the proletarian forces of the leadership and the revolutionary cadres of the organization.

Repeated criticism and self-criticism was launched at this camp of the petty bourgeoisie with the aim of getting it to turn back on its disastrous course.

James Forman refused to repudiate his ideological end political errors, the most important ones in the area of substituting petty bourgeois ideology for proletarian ideology. These errors inevitably led to political and organizational opportunism.

Proletarian ideology – Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tae-Tung thought – is growing and: getting stronger as it struggles with the old bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas and outlook, and as we analyze the errors made in carrying out our mass work, during the 2 and a half years of our existence. As before, the age-old question of who will lead the Black peoples struggle for emancipation is at stake. No matter how much the petty bourgeoisie cloaks itself in revolutionary phrasemongering, in struggle with the new modern Black industrial proletariat; it cannot hide its true class nature. (Two-faced)

Every trend in Social-Democracy inevitably receives the adherence of a greater or lesser number of not purely proletarian out semi-proletarian and semi-petty bourgeois elements; the question is which trend is less subordinate to them (the petty bourgeoisie elements), more rapidly rids itself of them, more successfully combats them. – V.I. Lenin

THE MAIN MISTAKES AMD WEAKNESSES IN IDEOLOGY, POLITICS AND ORGANIZATION

The main reason for the lack of such a guiding line, method, plan or policy in the intent of the working class was to be found in the ideological weakness of the organization as a whole.

Right from the beginnings dangerous opportunist elements riding high in the saddle of leadership, interjected the outlook of the petty bourgeois versus the outlook of the proletariat.

By this we mean these petty bourgeois elements substituted one-sided, unsystematic, unreliable non-scientific and self-centered policies and ways of thinking for scientific systematic, reliable and working class methods of thinking. They were subjective on every hand.

James Forman attempted to substitute erroneous concepts like “Content, Process and Who” found in the pamphlets: “Get Acquainted”, “Political Lesson One”, etc., for the scientific and fundamental tenets of Marxism – dialectical materialism – and the Marxist Theory of Knowledge).

Forman claimed his theories were “very scientific” and could be used as a reliable method of analysis!

He also blurred and confused the teachings on the State with such pamphlets as “Control, Conflict and Change”(the contents of which wore plagiarized). He presented the State as a loose system of “Control Mechanisms”, rather than as a single instrument of class exploitation and oppression used by the ruling class against working class and oppressed masses. He equated the entire theories of all types of revolutionaries with the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-Tung Thought. This was done by suggesting that “all theory” could be modified, extended or applied to our concrete conditions (Congress’s “Manifesto”). According to his theories there is some value in Trotskyism, Revisionism, Ron Karengaism, etc.

James Forman denied the materialist conception of history of stating that the main problems in the movement and in our organisation were “psychological” rather than the result of class exploitation and oppression. He characterizes the bulk of all problems both in the organisation and the revolutionary movement as being due to his theory of “3 evils”; “elitism, egotism and authoritarianism.” This had the effect of undermining criticism and self-criticism in the organization is a Marxist-Leninist style, thereby promoting LIBERALISM on a grand scale. Class struggle, the struggle between the two lines, was handled inside the organization like “modern group therapy.” He was even referred to as “Doc” by many comrades in the organization.

FORMAN REFUSED TO REPUDIATE ANY OF THESE ERRONEOUS THEORIES, in repeated struggle after struggle within the organization! These are only a few of the ideological errors which were brought into the Black Workers Congress by James Forman.

POLITICS

The political mistakes made by the Black Workers Congress under the petty bourgeois leadership of James Forman were manifested primarily in inconsistent and undisciplined work, left revolutionary phrase mongering and, in carrying out the main task of the revolutionary movement:

(A) In carrying out work within the Trade Unions and worker’s movement, especially among black workers, the organization pursued a policy of keeping most of its cadre outside the plants, while blitzing the working class in an old “movement” like fashion. The organization took slogans like: “Organise the Revolution, Disorganize the State” to the black workers in the Trade Unions at this stage of the movement!

In carrying out Trade Union work, Forman consistently led the organization to confuse the difference between the Communist movement and the present worker’s movement. This was best expressed by Forman PASSING OUT SETS OF THE “COLLECTED WORKS OF MAO TSE TUNG” AT THE PLANT GATES!

The organization was led to constantly ignoring the principle of relying on the most advanced elements in the Trade Unions, winning over the middle elements, and isolating the reactionary forces. This was followed by an indiscriminate policy of recruiting petty bourgeois elements and relying on opportunist elements.

(B) In carrying out work among the semi-proletarian and non-proletarian masses, in anti-imperialist mass struggles, Forman consistently led the organization into implementing a policy of isolating the organization in the black community, while treating whites in an unprincipled, manipulative fashion – WITH ONLY THE INTEREST OF RAISING FUNDS IN MIND!

The work of the organization was unplanned and spontaneous with the leading role of black workers and the working class in general blurred, and only given attention in lip service and phrase mongering.

The main form of political work and the fundamental tasks of the organization were consistently ignored for a style of helter skelter campaigns which ware started and stopped at a momentís whim.

These were only a few of the political mistakes made by the BWC under the incorrect leadership of Forman.

ORGANIZATION

The errors in ideology and politics which were present from the very beginning manifested themselves right from the start in a policy of a loose ill-defined, organization. Forman vigorously pushed an erroneous line called “cadre/mass” claiming that the entire communist movement in the U.S. had misunderstood the Leninist principles of organization. Liberalism was the dominant line where quantity was emphasized over quality. These incorrect policies in the organization promoted the personal rule of James Forman and undermined collective leadership while promoting the dangerous tendency of regionalism and 1ocalism. Criticism and self-criticism were never unfolded in the organisation, especially from within its ranks causing inadequate, ideological and political discussions on important questions and tasks facing the BWC and the revolutionary movement. Formanís policies led to verbal phrase mongering on discipline, self-reliance, and hard struggle but in fact amounted to special treatment for certain members and especially Forman, who regularly took vacations and trips to Puerto Rico. Sectarianism and arrogant attitudes towards fraternal and revolutionary anti-imperialist organisations was an integral part of Formanís organizational policy. When unable to get his way with Black organizations, he branded them as reactionary nationalist and even went so far as to threaten the African Liberation Support Committee with exposure to the “African Liberation Fighters” if they didn’t bow to his demands. This incorrect policy of sectarianism attacked, indiscriminately, predominantly all-white organizations as being part of the “arrogant and racist white left” whenever there was a difference of opinion or sometimes simply when they approached the BWC outside of personally going through Forman. Internally, this sectarianism promoted the growth of factions and factional intrigue, setting cadre against cadre in the direct opposite spirit of unity-criticism-unity.

These are some of the errors in the organizational policy of the BWC under the leadership of James Forman.

CONCLUSION

These errors in the BWC were due to 1) the lack of experience and Marxist-Leninist traditions in the Black Liberation Struggle. 2) The leadership of the BWC has been consistently divided between those holding strongly onto a petty bourgeois outlook and the younger, just now emerging proletarian forces with a more unified understanding of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-Tung Thought. 3) These errors were due to the uneven development of the Black Liberation Struggle in different parts of the country. It was also due to the objective development of the Black Liberation Struggle and the U.S. Proletarian devolution at this time, but also to the terroristic repression that the ruling lease has used on militant, anti-imperialist Black organizations over the last five to ten years. 4) These errors were also due to the lack of proletarian organization and experience and the success of the high flying camp of the petty bourgeois elements, who were led by a figure of some “historical dimension” in maintaining supremacy in the organization.

According to a retired Black worker and a revolutionary communist: “All that is changing now because there is a huge Black proletariat amongst the Black Masses – and a Black industrial proletariat at that. Niggers are urban now and they can see much more of the real world. It’s going to be much harder for preachers, magicians and scalawags of all sorts to fool the Black Masses.”

The BWC will be releasing very soon a complete ideological and political history of the organization and the different struggles “between the two lines.” The BWC will also be releasing its position on a number of important questions facing the Black Liberation Movement and the U.S. Proletarian Revolution in general.