This pamphlet is based on the experience of leaders and members of the Progressive Labor Party over the last 50 years. It reflects the struggle to learn from but not repeat the mistakes of the old communist movement. It is a modest contribution to the ceaseless development of the science of dialectical materialism.
- You don't know it, but you're in jail!
- PHILOSOPHY AND BOSSES' DICTATORSHIP
- APPEARANCE AND ESSENCE
- PHILOSOPHY: THE STUDY OF SOMETHING REAL
- LAWS AND UNIVERSALITY
- IDEAS COME FROM THE REAL WORLD AND FROM PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
- MATERIALISM vs. IDEALISM
- THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY CHANGE
- POLITICAL PRACTICE BROADENS THE PARTY'S LIMITS
- NOTHING'S SIMPLE
- SAMENESS AND DIFFERENCE
- SOCIALISM LOST - COMMUNISM FOUND
- BOSSES' IDEAS AND ONE-SIDEDNESS
- BOILING WATER, FRYING THE BOSSES, AND THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES
- RESOLVE CONTRADICTIONS BY SHARPENING THEM
- THE INTERNAL IS PRIMARY
- CONTRADICTION IS EVERYWHERE, BUT FRIENDS AREN'T ENEMIES
- QUANTITY AND QUALITY
- TWO LAWS...WITH MORE TO COME
- THE THIRD LAW: NEGATION
- OUR PARTY IS LENIN'S CHILD
- FREEDOM: A CLASS QUESTION
Not a jail with bars, but another kind, in which our minds are imprisoned by capitalism. Capitalist ways of thinking surround us. The schools, the cultural outlets, like TV, the press, books, music, movies, you name it, bombards us with the wrong ideas. All ruling class media push anti-communism, racism, patriotism, male chauvinism (sexism), and a host of other rotten ideas. But as bad as it is, the toothpaste ad culture is not the worst. The worst is not so obvious.
Basically, the system trains us to think very little, superficially, or not at all. Capitalist training leads us to have a shallow view of things, to make one-sided, subjective, narrow judgments, and not to understand the essential nature of developments or processes. Therefore, the best of us make too many mistakes and don't necessarily learn from our mistakes or others'.
The drug culture and, of course, drugs themselves are more weapons in the rulers' arsenal in case we act to break the chains that bind us to capitalism. Even if we recognize the evils of capitalist society, we are often not prepared to fight it on a long-term or life-long basis.
Religion remains one of the rulers' primary weapons for controlling our minds. Taking advantage of people's desire to understand what society and life are all about, religion tells us we can control our own destiny through prayer and ritual. This mystical idea is the kernel of religion. Religion's role is to make sure that we respect the status quo. What is belief in the status quo? The ruling class holds power and should keep it. Basically, the bosses want us to accept our fate and not question it. Surely, they don't want us to do anything about it, like take matters into our own hands. The rulers and their Holy Men want us to console ourselves with the prospect of a better "hereafter."
All ruling class philosophy, whether it be religion or anything else, works to maintain ruling class political power. Most college students who are forced to study philosophy in school think it's bullshit. Many students know that what they are taught in school under the heading of philosophy has little if any relation to the real world. The bosses don't want us to understand the real world.
They don't want us to realize that the wrong class is in power and should be destroyed along with its state apparatus. The last thing the rulers want is for us to understand that workers should hold power through the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The bosses want us to believe that the misery of capitalist oppression is our own fault, that something is wrong with us and not with their system of profits and exploitation.
The rulers do everything they can to keep things as they are. Consequently, they work overtime to prevent workers from developing an objective outlook and seeing the real world. By "objective," we don't mean neutral. As the old song about striking coal miners, "Which Side Are You On?" says, there are no neutral ideas.
The ruling class opposes changes and resorts to mass terror in order to keep things their way if all their horseshit fails. Fascist terror is the logical consequence of capitalism. In the final analysis, the mailed fist is all the bosses have to offer. But they try to keep us hooked as long as possible on their philosophical drugs.
Over thousands of years, many people have learned the hard way that things aren't always as they seem. What is the first thing you see when you look at an object, a person, any process? You got it! You see the outer, the surface. Now the outer appearance of a thing is very important. However, if you stop at the outer, you haven't seen the whole. Most often, you haven't grasped the most important truth about a person or an object. So you must go further. Where? You know the answer. To the inner.
What do some people say? "You can't judge a book by its cover." Or occasionally, "I'm going to get to the bottom of this." Have you ever heard someone say: "I'm you going to see what makes that person tick"? Many of us have learned from hard experience that appearance is not total reality.
In the food industry, the packaging often costs more than what's in the package. Packaging is a multi-billion dollar industry. Now, it's nice to see a shiny new or used car. Naturally you want the car to be nice looking. But if you don't evaluate many things, like the springs, the shocks, and of course the engine, you probably won't end up with the car of your dreams.
Yet don't the movies and other cultural forms train us to view the superficial? In the past it wasn't unusual to hear the expression: "Clothes make the man." It's good to be neat and clean, conditions permitting. But the fashion industry has emerged into the relatively big time. Fashion is another step along the road of superficiality. The fact is that clothes don't make the person. What really makes people is not their looks but their ideology and the ways they apply it. So appearances have some importance. But we must learn to go from the outer to the inner. Don't take things on face value.
If capitalist philosophy is bad, what then is philosophy? We say capitalism trains us not to see the social basis of the real world, not to be objective. So a simple definition of philosophy from our point of view is the study of any process in its depth, its inner nature. This definition at least plucks philosophy out of the clouds and puts it in the real world. The study of any process. Now we are addressing real things. A process, ranging from shoemaking to making revolution, is real. That is what we want to examine. Not the superficial outer, but the inner, the basics.
If philosophy is this kind of study of any process, then what the hell is dialectical materialism? Do you put it on your cereal? You are in PLP. You're at work. You are eating lunch with friends. You have told some of them you believe in dialectical materialism. One of them -- the nasty one -- asks you, "What is dialectics?" Now you may be in trouble.
Let's see. By studying many processes, you begin to understand that certain things are common to all of them. Ultimately you begin to see that there are LAWS governing all developments. In your limited experiences, you have noticed that when you drop a ball it goes down, not up. We know this is the law of gravity. By studying many processes we can begin to understand that certain laws are UNIVERSAL to all processes. Universal is the magic word to know. It helps explain dialectical materialism. For example, is there any similarity between boiling water and making a revolution? What are the laws in each process? Later on in this booklet we will go into the laws and try to explain them. But before that we will cover a few more things.
A popular love song in the 1950s was called "I Get Ideas." We all get ideas. The question is how do we actually get them? Sometimes you hear people describe someone as the smartest person alive, a "genius." Usually this idea is followed by the explanation: "He/she was born that way." Occasionally we hear someone describe a person as "cerebral" (brainy). Or people exclaim: "What a head on his/her shoulders!"
You don't just dream up ideas. Obviously, you are not born with them. Genes or genetic traits don't produce ideas. Ideas come from practice, from the world around us. All our ideas come from our own experiences, our friends' and family's experiences, other workers' practice; from those who lived before and their books. A scientist can make a breakthrough, but the breakthrough by an individual effort comes as a result of tons of efforts, good and bad, by others in the field. You may be smart, but you can't do it on your own. So your ideas come not only from what goes on in your head. They mainly come from the real world, which exists independently of your own mind.
While theory is important, very important, practice is primary. Theory is dependent on practice. Practice always precedes theory. You may have heard someone say: "You can't suck it out of your thumb." Practical experience takes place. It has to be evaluated. Lessons should be drawn from practice. Based on evaluation, theory then advances until further practice is done and evaluated, and so on.
The ruling class basically practices idealism. We don't mean in the moral sense. Obviously, generosity and selflessness are the last things on the bosses' minds. We mean idealism in the philosophical sense, the belief that the real world is determined primarily by ideas and the mind. Why are the rulers' idealists? To maintain things as they are. Often we are told: "Don't rock the boat." Or "This is the best of all possible worlds." The logic of all this capitalist claptrap is that you can't improve things, so why try? Depending on circumstances, reforms are put forward to make the system better. The bottom line is: don't try to make revolution, because it is futile. The demise of the old international communist system has given the rulers another tool in their idealist philosophy. Now they can say, and they do, that even if communist revolution is possible, it doesn't work anyway.
The ruling class is not materialist. Here again, we're not talking about moral materialism. No one is greedier or more selfish than the big bosses. We mean materialism in the philosophical sense, the belief that the real world exists independently of the mind, and that ideas ultimately depend on and come from reality outside the mind. The ruling class is idealist because it seeks to do the impossible. The rulers want to stop the wheel of history. Holding power is their goal, and they will tell us--and themselves--all sorts of lies to keep it.
Despite the cynical rulers' notion that the more things change the more they stay the same, things do change. The bosses want us to believe that fighting for change is useless. But what is the fact? First there was communalism, or primitive communism. Then there was slave society. This gave way to feudalism, which was superseded by capitalism.
Then there was socialism, which was reversed, but which set the stage for communism, if we draw the correct lessons from socialism's failure. Society has made fundamental changes. So, of course, has technology. Things don't change? Let's see you live in a cave or take a covered wagon to California. All changes take place based on the cumulative practice of masses of people. Perhaps you would like things to move faster in a revolutionary direction. Who wouldn't? That is not the point. Often fundamental change takes a long time when viewed from an individual slant. That's why a long range perspective is crucial. We must be able to combine urgency with patience. But from such a perspective, we can see that the Russian Revolution, the most profound development of the twentieth century, occurred only 75 years ago. This is just a wink of history's eye. As they say, practice makes perfect. Previous changes of social systems have taken centuries, in some cases thousands of years. The opportunities for our Party for more vigorous practice and Party growth increase as the boss's system becomes increasingly sick and decadent.
"Well now, that's the limit." Have you ever heard someone say that to a naughty child? Or have you ever heard that idea expressed about someone who has done something beyond the norm? Years ago Bill Klem was the chief umpire of baseball. Klem drew the original line in the sand. When a player argued with Klem about a call and started to get porky, Klem drew a line in the dirt with his foot between himself and the angry player. If the player crossed the line, Klem threw him out. The player had gone beyond the limits.
So what? Lets take another example. If you weigh over 400 pounds, you will probably drop dead or at least get very sick. If you're an adult over six feet weighing 75 pounds, you will suffer the same fate as the heavy person. Too fat, too thin. The human body develops within strict limits. Did you ever hear of someone living to three hundred? Of course not. All human life is circumscribed by limits.
Not too long ago, only maximum speed limits were posted on highways. Over the years those concerned with highway safety realized, based on statistics, gleaned from practice (driving), that overly slow drivers were also dangerous. So too fast and too slow were the limits put on highway driving. What are the political limits within which our Party operates? Take a guess!
Our Party line is based in part on the revolutionary development of millions of workers. We think in terms of building a mass party. Presently, our Party has under a million members. Well, now you know our size. Suppose the next Central Committee meeting calls on every Party district to take to the streets, capture City Hall and thus seize political power. You don't like that one. Why? Because this would be suicidal, because we are too small, and our base is still very limited. An action like this could be characterized as left adventurism, even though in a general way this is one of our strategic goals. Tactics too far to the left of our base's size and quality would lead to our termination. To the end of our Party as a process.
Let's change the scenario. The Party really has millions of members and tens of millions in its base. The CC then calls on its members and base to go to the polls and elect Luis, the editor of Challenge-Desafio, as president. A bad idea. It would also end the process of our development as a revolutionary party. Parliamentary strategy would be too far to the right, beyond the limits, of a revolutionary party. Too left, too right are both dead ends for the Party. But these errors have brought about the demise of many revolutionary groups. Thus we oppose terrorism and we attack right opportunism.
But do the limits stay the same? The limits of a small party are different from those of a large party. The Party now circulates about 10,000 Challenge-Desafios. This can't be the limit forever. It shouldn't be the limit even now. But let's say for argument's sake that this is the best we can do at present. However, continued Challenge-Desafio sales and Party growth will expand the current limits. Every time we carry out political work, our practice changes the limits of what we can do next, and consequently influences the limits of the entire Party. We have to be ever on the alert, scrutinizing, investigating circumstances internal and external to the Party, keep ourselves rooted in basics, so that we can take advantage of a situation and expand our limits. Sometimes the opportunity can be right under our noses. Often events off the job can be used to widen our work on and off the job in a revolutionary direction.
Usually imperialist war or nationalist war are among the biggest influences that can move our efforts forward. Sometimes we get unexpected opportunities. Take the O.J. Simpson trial. The emergence of the Mark Fuhrman tapes, proving him to be the fascist monster that he is, opened up political possibilities for us. We could show that Fuhrman isn't unusual, that capitalist police departments and cops are by nature racist killers. The rulers realized what had happened and moved fairly quickly to say that Fuhrman isn't the average cop. Even the LAPD police ran full page ads disassociating themselves from the fascist Fuhrman.
Did we move quickly, vigorously, and in unison to draw the lesson for the masses that, among others, the police are a significant force for the rulers? The police help the bosses hold power. While some people realize this, most don't, even if they hate the police. The cops represent an important part of the rulers' armed forces. They police are capitalism's shock troops. They confront the workers on a day to day basis. Anyway, did we expand our limits by taking advantage of the Fuhrman opportunity?
By now it may be a little clearer that all processes are complex. The political process is especially complex. Complexity is a universal feature of all developments. When I worked in a machine shop some years ago I operated a Blanchard Grinder. My workmates and I were required to use a micrometer. This measuring device helped us determine sizes invisible to the eye and too small to be measured by a ruler. Every job had a tolerance. The tolerances were always above or below the final size of the object being ground. So every job had its specific limits of "plus" or "minus." We were required to check many times the object we were grinding to see if it remained within the tolerance-limits assigned to the job. Usually, we were given a blueprint of the object with the tolerances noted.
To the naked eye each piece looked the same. But if the objects went beneath or beyond the limits, they would be thrown away. In other words, the process had to be terminated. But, gee, each piece looked exactly the same. The machine was the same. The initial pieces were the same. The grinding stone seemed the same. But things were not the same. Every time the grinding stones engaged the object, the stone wore down a bit. Every grind, in the most minute way, changed the size of the piece being ground. Those of you who have operated a punch press know that every time a die in the press bangs out another piece, it wears the die. If the job lasts long enough, you know that the die will eventually change in size, that the new piece will come out the wrong size.
No two processes are exactly 100% the same. So what? What does this mean to you and me? You are in a PLP club. Everyone is somewhat committed to fighting for communist revolution. But we all know from experience that eventually some of the older members or even some of the newer members will drop out. So while all the members seem the same, in reality they are not. Sometimes too many battles will wear out a person. In some cases certain members will weaken in the course of various struggles, while similar experiences will strengthen other members.
In other cases, things don't move fast enough for some members. Occasionally a member will draw the conclusion that the reason for sluggishness in the class struggle is that the workers are bad, the bosses too strong, the Party weak or wrong. In other words there can be a myriad of reasons for a member to drop away.
You can never take anyone for granted. In saying this we want to point out that there is a thin line between reality and cynicism. We should always carefully and thoroughly evaluate the many aspects of any process we are involved in. And we should never draw one-sided conclusions.
For example, when our Party published Road to Revolution IV, some members and friends said that the old international communist movement had always been rotten. One essential difference between RRIV and the old movement was that we advocated skipping the socialist stage and going directly to communism. Important? Sure! However, like the old movement, we advocated the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the need for mass armed struggle. We understood the crucial role of the working class and other key concepts of earlier Marxism-Leninism. While we are different in many important ways from the old movement, ours is not entirely different. We say our Party is primarily like the old movement. We have learned from previous experiences, as well as from our own, that communism should be the sole goal of the revolution.
No matter how you evaluate the relative development of sameness and difference, our Party is not totally changed from the old movement. We have tried to learn from the strengths of earlier communists and to discard their weaknesses. This knowledge comes from a combination of practice and evaluation. We don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Things are usually neither all good nor all bad. Snap judgments typically lead to wrong, often dangerous conclusions.
The ruling class trains us, with some success, to be one-sided. One way of dividing and weakening the working class is to make differences among workers appear primary. For example, the bosses push the concept of race. This is one way they compartmentalize us. The racist bosses say: "Black is bad; black workers can never unite with white." "Immigrants (unless they are white) are robbing us blind." Thus, we should hate them all and go along with the rulers' attacks on the immigrants. More importantly, we are supposed to believe that immigrants, rather than the bosses, are our enemies.
And, of course men and women are so different that they have different outlooks, emotions, and values. The bosses use this lie to foster male chauvinism and to exploit women workers even more than men. Then the bosses try to convince women to view their exploitation in a non- class way, to view men, not the ruling class, as their main enemy. To the extent that workers and others go along with the rulers' racism and male chauvinism, capitalism rakes in huge profits. The bosses are laughing all the way to the bank as we are suckered in by their racism, nationalism, and male chauvinism.
Regardless of sex, color, and national origin, all workers are more alike than different. As far as their interests are concerned, all are objectively pitted against the boss. Only communism can fully and permanently end divisions within the working class and smash capitalist oppression!
"The Times They are A-Changing" was a popular song in the days of the movement against the Vietnam war. But the bosses don't want real change that would strengthen the working class. They say: "Don't rock the boat; don't make waves." They always throw these ideas at us so that we don't resist their oppression and make revolution. On the other hand, as we pointed out above, the rulers tell us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. By using this cynical notion, they are just coming at us from another side, but the goal--to prevent us from rocking the boat--is the same. All the rulers' philosophy is based on keeping power. Keeping things as they are means the rulers continue to hold power.
However, we all know, often from bitter experience, that things do change. Under capitalism they go from bad to worse. You think things are bad now? Well, they will get worse, much worse. This trend sums up workers' lives under capitalism.
But the bosses have some smarts. They know that many workers are fed up with capitalism or at least very much disgruntled with their daily lives. So then the capitalists say things will get better if only we allow them to dictate the change. In the last election, Bill Clinton ran as the apostle of change. All the bosses want is to keep power and maintain the status quo. They understand that sometimes they have to pander to our desire to see change for the better. Often they disagree with each other over the best tactics for doing this. Many of us have come to understand that these arguments between bosses' factions have to do only with how to make things better for the bosses and their class.
Well, let's go from these heavy ideas into the kitchen. You want to boil water. You put water in a pot and place the pot over a flame. The water boils. What we have here is the unity of opposites. Or the interpenetration of things. Obviously, the water boils after the heat has penetrated it. What's boiling water got to do with the Party and the class struggle? Plenty!
The workers and bosses are locked in class struggle. Objectively, this is a fight to the death, whether we recognize it or not. The workers can win only if they destroy the ruling class, its armed power, its state apparatus, its culture, its philosophy, and so on. How can we talk about unity within a fight to the death? Workers and bosses are not united on a philosophical or political basis. They're two opposing sides of the same battle. They are locked in battle. We talk about unity in this sense, and only in this sense.
The Party understands the objective nature of the class struggle and brings into this struggle the idea that revolution is necessary. The ideas of Marxism-Leninism do not fall from the sky, nor do they arise all by themselves from the class struggle. Workers never wake up one morning saying: "We need the dictatorship of the proletariat. We need to build a new state apparatus that serves our interests." Communists bring these ideas to the working class because we know that only the working class has the need and power to do away with capitalism. In this sense we are the fire under the water. The hotter we make it for the bosses, the sooner the revolution will prevail. The class struggle is a contradiction.
There are contradictions in every process. These contradictions make change. The rulers seek to suppress change, the making of waves, revolution. While there is some truth in a personal or coincidental way to the notion that opposites attract, the fact is that opposites, while united in struggle, create change or motion.
Thus, we can begin to understand that the way to resolve a class or antagonistic contradiction is to intensify it. Increasing the flame makes the water boil faster. Building the Party through increased class struggle leads to revolution.
But things are far more complex than they seem. For example, if we place flame under a rack, the rack will take far longer than the water to change in composition. You can snap a twig with your fingers, but you can't snap the branch of a tree bare-handed. You can break a wooden pencil with your fingers but you may not be able to break a pen that has the same pressure and thickness.
While everything has contradictions, everything isn't the same. Some things are stronger than others. In other words, their internal make up is stronger than the external contradictions. Why did the pencil snap under pressure, while similar pressure didn't affect the pen? As Mao Zedong said, "Put a rock and an egg in the sun. In one case, you get a hot rock. In the other, a chick." We conclude that the internal contradiction is primary. At this stage of the struggle the ruling class is stronger than our Party. The bosses are currently dominating the working class. We could decide from this example that because the ruling class is too strong, we should give up. Some people do give up, and many more think about it, falling for the idea that you can't fight City Hall.
If you can't fight City Hall, then what are we doing? We are trying to make ourselves stronger so the bosses cannot defeat us or break us. While the external pressures from the ruling class are important, these attacks are not primary. The Party will go under only if it is too weak to withstand attacks. A recent look at history might convince you. The Soviet Union went under, but not mainly because of U.S. imperialism. The decline of the international communist movement and ultimately the total collapse of Soviet socialism can be traced primarily to ideological weaknesses. Soviet imperialism went down to defeat without ever taking a shot from the other side. For the first time in a history, a state peacefully gave up power and went off the stage of history with its tail between its legs.
Of course, there were pressures from the outside. But the demise of the Soviet Union was due essentially to weaknesses within the old communist movement and, ultimately, to contradictions within Soviet capitalism itself.
The question sometimes arises: can you eventually win when you appear to be in an overwhelmingly adverse position? Well, it was done in Czarist Russia, when a small group of communists and advanced workers overthrew a seemingly invincible enemy. It happened in China under similar circumstances. History has proved it can be done.
As Mao said, you must slight the enemy strategically but take him into full account tactically. You might say that our line reflects the real world because it coincides with the wheel of history. Societies do change, and when they are ripe for change, it cannot be prevented by the people in power. The rulers try to stop the advance of history and society. As we pointed out, this is the height of idealism.
One word of caution. Contradictions arise not only between opposing classes but also among friends. All contradictions have to be intensified in order to resolve them and move on to a new set of more advanced contradictions. However, different tactics must be used in struggling with friends and fighting an enemy. Different goals must be sought. In struggling with one another we want to reach a higher degree of unity. In fighting the bosses we seek the opposite. Determining these tactics is very difficult and complex. All contradictions are antagonistic. However, every contradiction isn't primary. Abandoning the Dictatorship of the Proletariat as a goal leads to a more intense contradiction than arguing over the choice of a street corner for a Party rally. There are differences and differences. A good deal of judgment must be used to determine the tactics for all internal struggle. In the final analysis, the collective decides what is right or wrong. Most of the time, the collective is correct. The old saying is right: two heads are usually better than one.
Capitalist society trains us to believe that what an individual thinks is always true and that "my" ideas are identical to the real world. In most cases the real world can best be seen by the many, not the one or the few. Individualism, in the capitalist sense, is negative.
Collective practice and time will eventually determine the best way of doing something. We must evaluate as we practice, and try to come up with the right path to follow.
One final note on contradiction. It used to be thought that inanimate objects had no life or contradictions of their own. The development of inorganic chemistry showed otherwise. Book collectors or libraries have learned that books and papers will disintegrate with age. So they preserve them by encasing them in glass. Paper is now being treated chemically to last longer.
Everything changes. Even a desk in an office has an inner life. The desk has its own molecular composition. The molecules constantly collide with one another. The desk is vulnerable to the atmosphere, which will also influence its deterioration. There are contradictions in everything, not just in some things. There are no exceptions. If we understood this law of motion, we would not only be able to do better political work. We would also be able to handle our so-called personal life better.
Suddenly it's spring! (Sounds like the title of another popular song.) Yesterday there wasn't a bud on the bush. Today the buds are all over. Some parents worry that their child is older than two and hasn't yet said a word. Instead of worrying, they should count their blessings. Then, miracle of miracles, the speechless two year-old suddenly starts spouting sentences. What about the parents who have been trying for months without much success to toilet train their two year-old? Then one day, the kid suddenly starts jumping on the potty. Have you heard the one about how young someone looked recently, and suddenly that person now looks very old?
Get the idea? Often we see only the big change but can't or don't see the small, cumulative change that appears to arrive full-blown, or least seems unaccountably larger. It's somewhat the same way in the Party and in making revolution. Just prior to the large anti-Vietnam War movement the media and pundits characterized college students as the "silent generation." Within a short time the "silent" ones were marching by the millions against the war. Unless you are very careful, you risk writing off millions of allies and potential members. If you make judgments based on superficial temporary evidence, you can easily miss chances to build the Party. Or, as many have done and continue to do, you may drop out of the Party because you make subjective, wrong estimates of what is possible.
Often we don't appreciate our own efforts or the efforts of the Party. Admittedly, international communist movement's demise has slowed down the class struggle everywhere. That's the real world! But we can't cry over spilt milk. We can only draw lessons from the collapse and apply these lessons, both positive and negative, to our own work. Giving up flies in the face of objective reality. Like all other processes, class struggle ebbs and flows. Persistent efforts around the line of Road to Revolution IV will sooner or later weaken and smash capitalism.
Sometimes you hear people are say: "So I sold another Challenge. So what?" Or you know this is what they're thinking. On the face of it, the thought's not unreasonable, especially if you have been mis-trained by capitalist ideas. But suppose every comrade and many friends sold one more C-D. This quantitative development might become a qualitative (important) step towards reaching the next crucial goal.
For the most part, our present recruitment efforts are too few, given the true potential for party growth. When we do recruit we still tend to do so by the ones and twos. But if we didn't recruit more of the ones and twos, we might not reach the stage at which mass recruitment could become possible. When you recruit someone, that development is probably qualitative for both you and the new member. However, it probably has just quantitative importance for the Party. On the other hand, if you evaluate your recruitment efforts, you will probably note that along the way, certain qualitative developments eventually led the person to join. In other words, there were turning points in your quantitative efforts.
We have, very briefly, covered the first two laws of Dialectical Materialism. The first is contradiction, the unity of opposites; and the second is quantity into quality. This is only wetting your whistle. Be careful, don't get carried away. Things are not so simple. They become more complex. Every time a contradiction is resolved, further contradictions arise, or the nature of the contradiction changes. Every new member that the Party recruit expands the limits of what the Party can do.
New members for the Party intensify the contradictions between us and the ruling class. We want new members, but they bring their own contradictions into the Party with them. Like ourselves, their commitment must always be examined and strengthened. More members must lead to increased political struggle in the Party. We must combat their political weaknesses, and continue our efforts to overcome political weaknesses amongst the veteran members. We could go on, but as you can see the struggle for communist ideas constantly goes on within and outside the Party. As we said before, struggle with our friends can't be the same as struggle against our enemies.
Every time we do something positive as individual members or as a Party, we produce new quantity leading to new quality. Although the process of building communism isn't like a dog running around in circles chasing its own tail, it is endless, and we have to train ourselves to see it in this way. Fighting for communism can't be a short- term fad; it must be a lifelong pursuit. No important commitment--marriage, children, friends, the Party--can be for the short term. If our efforts are to succeed, they must be for the very long haul. Think of another old saying: "In for a dime, in for a dollar." Remember, in every process there are contradictions. Karl Marx said that the essence of life is struggle. Nothing happens by itself. The unity of opposites sets things in motion. Conflict with the class enemy can bring victorious revolution. A different type of conflict with those near and dear can bring positive development.
As we wrote above, people often say: "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water." People always learn the basic truth of these homilies by experience, sometimes the hard way. Our Party has learned many things from the efforts of past revolutionaries. We also learn from one another and from a great deal of experience in the class struggle. In other words, we learn virtually everything from other workers, dead or alive. The class struggle is our schoolroom and without being too corny, we can say that the working class are our teachers.
Each society learns from previous societies and uses this knowledge to improve upon them. Technology is one of the things carried forward and then advanced from one society to the next. We are already evaluating capitalist society. Was capitalism an advance from feudalism? If nothing else, capitalism created the working class. Capitalism brought together large groups of workers who had to learn to work together in a somewhat disciplined way. Above all, they learned with ups and downs that they had to figure out how to fight together in order to improve their circumstances. As in other processes, development is highly uneven. You can say this with a vengeance about capitalism.
This unevenness stands out like a sore thumb in the U.S., which is supposedly one of the most developed of all capitalist countries. A vast gulf divides the rich from the poor. However, in many parts of the world, capitalism has produced little forward development over the last two centuries. If you think there is poverty in the U.S., Japan, and the industrialized countries of Europe, just look at many places in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Hundreds of millions of workers lag behind the poor of U.S. and other imperialists. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, has impoverished much of the world.
Most technology developed under capitalism has some use. But it is still technology for profit. Communists will use technology not to benefit the few, the bosses, but rather to improve the living conditions of all workers.
Communists are not going to throw out the hammer, airplanes, telephones, etc. We will use them so that we can increase production and distribute it in an even way. We may throw out PCs and private automobiles but we will not eliminate computers or mechanized transportation. Capitalism produces to enrich the bosses, not for the needs of workers. Today, there more profits to be made by Windows 95 than by building homes for the workers all over the world who live in hovels or on the street.
Using what is beneficial in previous processes to bring forth and improve new ones and discarding what is outworn or harmful is called, "Negation." The bosses would love it if we said: "The lesson from previous revolutionary movements is that they were rotten; there is nothing good to be learned from them." Hence, the unrelenting barrage of lies about Stalin, 50 years after his death. Present bourgeois estimates of Stalin's crimes now exceed those of Hitler's. I think the current figure for the deaths the bosses attribute to Stalin's leadership is up to 90 million. Before long, it will be said by the rulers that Stalin killed all the Russians, as well as millions of others.
The rulers want to distort and obscure the important advances made under socialism. They don't want anyone else to travel that road. They want to conceal the most profound development of the 20th century, the Russian Revolution.
The rulers want to hide the positive lessons of the Revolution. The rulers don't attack Stalin to help us get it right the next time. Their slogan is: "Never again." Our goal is: go forward to the communist revolution, based on Marxism-Leninism. Thus, you might say, as a result of investigation and practice, that our Party, the PLP, is the negation of international communism. This is when an old process ends and a new one begins or is born out of the old process. We say: "Workers of the world, unite; abolish wage slavery!" We didn't invent this slogan or the ideas behind it. We got them studying Marxism-Leninism.
If you wanted to apply this law to this booklet, you would have to read, study, and apply the ideas presented. After evaluating the pamphlet, you would have the use the evaluation to write a better one. The only direction for communists to go is forward!
The three laws of Dialectics can help us. But they can't give us a blueprint. A brief look at the ruling class's views on death and the "hereafter" may help us understand the negation of the negation. A quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar comes to mind: "The evil that men do live after them. The good is often interred with their bones." We might say simply that people's deeds live after them. The rulers' religious men say: "Look, you are here for only 70 or 80 years, if you are lucky! So be a good person." When the preachers speak of being good, they don't just mean be nice to your spouse, children, or neighbors. "Goodness" to them is a class question. Being "good" means: don't rock the boat. "Goodness" means especially being nice to the ruling class. Don't fight them; accept your lot in life. You are only here a short time, but you are dead forever. That is the bosses' frightening specter.
To force us to be good to them, the rulers use their holy roller con artists to give us the dual outlook of heaven and hell. If you are good, you go to heaven and live a beautiful existence forever. If you are bad, that is, if you fight for communism or even less, you go to hell. Hell or purgatory is a horrible place that you occupy for eternity. So what is putting up with class oppression for a brief 70 or 80 years, when the alternative is either eternal joy or eternal horrors?
But what you do on earth is the only life you have. It can have a lasting impact on the future, as well as on the present. A striking example is Lenin. Lenin has been dead about 70 years. But his deeds, his vision, live on forever. Our Party could never have come into existence without Lenin.
Children represent one of the more common examples of the link between the present and the future. The future of life on earth isn't mystical. In large measure, it has to do with children. Children are the future. The hereafter endorsed by the rabbis, priests, preachers, etc. leads to maintaining hell on earth. Fighting for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat means fighting for the needs and aspirations of the working class, now and for the future. Communism is the future of all workers. The time to start fighting for it was yesterday!
Like the OJ trial, which seemed to go on forever, this pamphlet is nearing its end. At some point in dialectics' classes, the question often arises: what is freedom? In almost every case, with some variations, the answer is: doing what you want. One young person in a recent class said that freedom to her meant the absence of responsibility to anyone else. Doing what you want. The absence of responsibility. These ideas put you in jail, much like solitary confinement, and keep you there.
These common ideas are the ultimate expression of selfishness. Freedom, in fact, is acting on your class needs. It is the opposite of selfishness and individualism. Knowing what you and your class need are a big step to gaining freedom. Freedom is one thing for the bosses and something altogether different for workers and communists. The bosses know that they need us to keep producing profits and fighting wars for them. To the extent that we swallow their rotten ideas and remain passive in the face of their crimes, the bosses are free to go on ruling over us.
The working class needs communism. Without communism the workers are at the mercy of the greedy rulers and their profit system. So how do you get communism? The answer to that one is by building the Party, in this case, the PLP. The next step is fighting for communist revolution.