Monday, May 12, 2014

USA: What Road to Building a New Communist Party?” Mike Hamlin, Black Workers Congress

    "But the rebellion was stillborn and Hamlin waxes poignant on how and why that pregnant moment fell so disappointingly short.  “It’s interesting the way all the organizations began to dissolve at the same time,” Hamlin laments.  “We know of the efforts of COINTELPRO (a program put into effect by J. Edgar Hoover to destroy the left, including the black movement) to inject as much confusion as possible through infiltration.  We also know the effect of the calculated flooding of our communities with hard drugs.  But there was also the tendency internally, after some successes, to begin to believe in your own invulnerability. 

Then personal ego takes the place of group betterment.”

Mike Hamlin


Democracy and Class Struggle says these comrades of the Black Workers Congress were denounced by Bob Avakian in the 1970's has Bundists.

A Bundist wanted the Jewish Bund to be sole working class representative of The Jewish People and were cultural nationalist like the Austro Marxists. The Bund were also Anti Zionist.

We are republishing this article has certain political illiterates in the USA are shouting Bundist again whenever national rights and questions of self determination are raised in the same Avakian style as the 1970's

Read Mike Hamlin and answer the question did he want to be sole representative of Black Workers ?

Mike Hamlin, Black Workers Congress

“What Road to Building a New Communist Party?”

First Published: The Guardian, April 11, 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba

The following is the slightly condensed text of the speech by Mike Hamlin of the Black Workers Congress given at the March 23 Guardian Forum in New York City on “What Road to Building a New Communist Party?”

There is fertile ground for communist activity in this country at this time. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of workers, youth, students and women have demonstrated their desire for revolutionary change in the United States. In 1970, for example, more than 5600 strikes took place reaching a-ten-year high. Over 400,000 auto and 500,000 railroad workers took part in these strikes.  Over the past 12 years we have seen the development of myriad movements, especially among black and other third world peoples. These movements developed independently of what was then calling itself “the Communist party.”

I am speaking of the movements of the type like the one around Malcolm X, SNCC in its later years, the Black Panther party, the Republic of New Africa, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Pan-Africanist Movement, the Young Lords party, the Weathermen, etc.

These movements were not anti-communist but considerably anti-CPUSA. This in part was due to the line and the policies of the Communist party, especially the question of the “peaceful transition to socialism.” You couldn’t peddle the line of “peaceful transition” to the mass of conscious workers and youth in this country in the 60s and you are not going to be able to peddle it to them in the 70s. Also, during the 50s, the bourgeoisie was able to completely sever (separate) the Communist movement and the whole history of working class struggle in this country from the present day struggle of the masses.


We began the 70s with a proliferation of new “communist” organizations. Some multi-national and others national in form. It becomes our task to build a “new” Communist party of the U.S. and merge the communist movement with the labor movement and the various national movements of the oppressed nations and nationalities. In this period we are presented with a number of roads of building this party and we shall try to answer that one for the Black Workers Congress and hopefully, for some of you here tonight.

To begin with, let me just run down some roads that we are not going to take:

We are not going to take the road of building the party of “armchair intellectuals,” in isolation from the mass struggle.

We are not going to take the road of basing the party on solely students, lumpens or any other unstable elements of the population but rather on the industrial proletariat.

We are not going to help build a party composed of factions, or one that engages in all struggle and no unity or vice versa.

And we are definitely not going to help build a party of the “whole people” or one that negates the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and bases itself on the peaceful evolutionary road to socialism.

I could go on and on, but if you want to build a party along these lines, we say: you build in your way and we will build in ours and we will let history and the masses decide which road is correct. For ourselves, we are taking the road and traditions of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung. What road is that? You ask.

That is the road that says the party should be based deep within the industrial proletariat as the main leading force for revolutionary struggle. It is the road that says that the party must make every factory, transportation and communication facility a fortress. It is the road that says the party must have the “factory unit” as the predominant form or most basic form of its organization, rather than a party which is based on bourgeois parliamentary districts or geographical units. It is the road to revolution.


The communist movement is over 100 years old. The basic principles of Marxism-Leninism on organizational questions have been laid long before us. Our task as a new generation of communists is not to “revise” or “recreate” ? any “new” theories on the question of the party, but to synthesize and develop further that which has already been proven correct by history and the great teachers and leaders of the past and present.

What are these principles?

The party is the most class conscious sector of the working class. The party constitutes the leadership “composed of the best, most conscious, most active, least cowardly and most courageous elements of the proletariat.” The leading elements of any class are a part of that class, closely bound up with it, not a sect, separated from the class.

Many of the mass movements and workers struggles were not completed and developed to the end because there was no conscious leadership of those struggles. There was no party. The party is therefore necessary (though not necessarily a prerequisite) for organizing together the most advanced, the most revolutionary sections of the proletariat in order to lead the working class in revolutionary class struggle.

The party’s life-blood is democratic centralism.

Democratic centralism is the most rigid centralization, firm unity, and collective political leadership, together with far-reaching activity and independence of the lower party organizations. In all normal times all the leading bodies are elected by the membership. Discussion of all problems by the membership is permitted within the framework of principles and decision. After the questions have been decided by the various leading bodies, all decisions must be carried out in a disciplined manner. Factions or unprincipled struggle is never tolerated. Lower bodies are subordinated to higher bodies and the whole organization is subordinated to the central committee.

The party’s organizations and units must insure contact with the masses. Only those who are active in the party’s organization can be members of the party. This principle will insure the party from becoming a debating club and prevent the passive, the cowardly and the opportunist elements from worming their way into the organization.

The party is the highest form of class organization.

The proletariat has many organizations such as trade unions, cultural groups and sports associations, which represent the particular interest of its various sectors. The communist party, however, if it is a genuine one, represents the entire interest of the working class. And even though it helps build organizations and movements around various other progressive strata, it must never lose sight of the fact that it is primarily the working class it represents. However, mass organizations are important too. Communist leadership in the mass organizations must be secured by conviction and winning the confidence of these masses and not by compulsion, manipulation or commandism.

The party must combine legal with illegal methods of work.

History is full of examples of victories and defeated revolutionary movements. It also shows how as the class struggle becomes sharper and sharper the measures which the bourgeois state uses against the revolutionary movement and revolutionary organizations also intensifies.

Under these dynamics, violence is inevitable (revisionists to the contrary). As capitalism decays more and more, the legal possibilities of political activity shrink. That is why Lenin said that the party, during the so-called “peaceful periods” cannot limit its activities to the legal framework of the state because that would be abandonment of the organization of the revolution, or legalism. On the other hand, the role of the party under such conditions is to carry on its work also under illegal methods, and not fail at the same time to organize the broadest base among the masses of the proletariat through politically active factory cells. Strong connections with the masses of the proletariat through politically active factory cells, strong connections of the party with the working class mass organizations through well-functioning cadres, and creation of specific forms of mass work such as unemployed councils, strike committees and above all the application of the proletarian and anti-imperialist united front from below.


These Bolshevik principles of organization are time-tested. That does not mean that we must build a new communist party in accordance with one scheme for all periods and situations. Any party must be flexible and adaptable.

The main thing is that we must be clear politically, avoiding the evils of opportunism, revisionism, Trotskyism and sectarianism, and adjust our organizational forms and methods of work to our political tasks. Without a good policy we cannot have a powerful organization and without an active party we cannot have any concrete carrying out of our political line in practice. This dialectical relationship between policy and organization must be constantly taken into consideration or otherwise another generation will be lost to communist struggle.

This brings us to the key part of our presentation: What is the role of the BWC and why is it a national form of communist organisation? We know many of our friends and especially dogmatists on the left in this country like to refer to us and formations like ours as “the Bund” (i.e., a cultural nationalist organization – ed.). Well, we’ve got news for you, we are not the Bund and we do not wish to speak for all Jewish workers.

We recognize that the proletariat in the United States is multi-national and that we must have and need very desperately a communist party that reflects reality. We are convinced that when such a party comes into being some of our membership will be part of it. We think, however, that it cannot be formed by proclamation and that it will be built out of the efforts of sincere and dedicated organizations and individuals who will prove themselves in theory and practice by participating in building the people’s movements and spreading Marxist-Leninist ideas among the masses.

Marxism-Leninism has not been taken into the working class movement in this country and the task of doing that is going to be a very difficult one. Among blacks, the task is going to be complicated by the history of racism and national chauvinism, the past practice of people who called themselves communist, the lack of highly trained, well developed Marxist-Leninists among blacks and the role of the black petit-bourgeoisie.

Cadre in the BWC, if asked the question, do you understand that the only solution to the problems of blacks in the U.S. is a proletarian revolution led by a multi-national communist party, to every man and woman would answer yes. If asked why are you then not a multi-national form, they would tell you that no communist party exists in this country and it must be built out of the struggles of the people and when it comes into being if it is to be genuine it must have some blacks in it who are highly developed theoretically and strongly rooted in the black working masses.

We think that our organization can and will in part fulfill that need. We do not quarrel with the multi-national forms at this time. In fact we feel that it is absolutely essential that black communists like Don Wright and Sherman Miller join organizations like the Revolutionary Union and the October League and participate in the leadership of those organizations as they struggle toward the party. We believe, however, that if all black Marxist-Leninists were to join multi-national organizations at this time, the reactionary and petty-bourgeois elements in the black community would be able to consolidate their influence among the black masses, which would hold back the communist movement that much more.

We would like to be able to bring thousands of black workers and revolutionaries into the new communist party when it is formed rather than enter into it as a small group, isolated from the black community.

We see our main task in this period as building stable leadership at all levels of the black struggle by building and strengthening mass anti-imperialist and working class organizations. Only by this means can we bring the black people’s struggle (at present at a low ebb) forward step by step and finally together with the whole worker’s movement, and together lead the mass revolutionary high tide which will certainly come.


To build the new communist party as a genuine Marxist-Leninist organization this party must be a Leninist party, a party that will be capable of fulfilling its role as the advanced detachment and highest from of class organization of the U.S. proletariat, a party with a great historical mission. Whenever it comes into being, and in whatever forms it may appear, it must fulfill the following conditions:

Ideologically: It must be armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism and free from sectarianism, opportunism, Trotskyism and modern revisionism.

Politically: It must have a correct program which includes correct answers to the national question, the united front, the woman question and a thorough understanding of the strategy and tactics of the U.S. revolution; masters the main form of struggle as well as other forms of struggle; is capable of establishing a united front of all genuinely anti-imperialist elements and is deeply based among the industrial proletariat and oppressed nations and nationalities.

Organizationally: It must be strong and must consist of the most trusted, experienced and most steeled party members who set an example in the implementation of their tasks.

The task of building a new Marxist-Leninist party like the one we’ve been talking about tonight is an arduous and protracted task and full of danger, and consequently it must be carried out courageously, perseveringly, carefully, patiently and persistently.

We of the Black Workers Congress are committed to this task of building such a party, to struggle with our fellow comrades in different organizations and sectors of the movement, to reach a unanimity of will with regard to the mistakes made by the party of the past, as well as concerning the road that must be taken.

Mike Hamlin in 2013
Red Salute to Mike Hamlin from Democracy and Class Struggle your struggle is are an inspiration to us all comrade.


Anonymous said...

The reason why D & C is reprinting this old 'bundist' document and attacking Bob Avakian is because he himself upholds a kind of petty bourgeois Welsh 'bundism'. Instead he should be publishing the groundbreaking work of BA's New Synthesis, which alone has synthesized the experience of the ICM thus far. Why does D & C have a personal crusade against BA? The RCP USA is a strong powerful party that is respected across the world; there is nothing like the RCP USA in Britain. If D & C were serious about building a party in Britain, he would ditch Welsh 'bundism' and petty bourgeois nationalism, and take up Bob Avakian's New Synthesis.

nickglais said...

I feel honoured by your insult of Welsh Bundism coming from a post maoist bourgeois cosmopolitan party like RCPUSA. I have addressed new synthesis ideas on the national question and internationalism on this site many times which you choose to ignore now you call me a Bundist like you did comrade Mike Hamlin I am truly honoured to be seen has standing by Mike Hamlin's side

nickglais said...

The last unpublished comments from you (Robert) were continuing insults rather than dialogue.

We have nothing personal against Bob Avakian it is purely political and maybe you should be reminded what we said about him in 2009 here :

Anonymous said...

Anon writes above:

"The RCP USA is a strong powerful party that is respected across the world..."

This statement is astonishing in its delusional distance from basic reality.

The RCP,USA is a small and crumbling cult. Its biggest day (membership-wise) was the day it was founded in 1975 (with around a thousand membvers) and it has shrunk steadily for forty years.

It is now no longer a national presence, only having active cadre in a smaller and smaller number of cities.

It is in a permanent financial crisis --so that fundraising is the only activity of its aging and often dazed members. I expect they will stop publishing a naitonal newspaper soon (having more and more abandoned a supposedly "weekly" schedule). And it has dropped its smaller bookstores, and will probably lose its flagship store in New York.

Saddest of all, its remaining few dozen cadre are more and more burned out -- looking like classic cult members. Repeating memorized phrases, looking vacant eyed and even disheveled. And with very few under fifty (younger people "come around" for brief periods of time, but are over and over and over repulsed by the ugly cult of personality that defines the RCP now). They have not had any naitonal youth formation since the RCYB shattered after the emergence of the full cult of personality.

They are isolated, and considered a joke by virtually everyone in the world... with very few exceptions. (And those exceptions are overwhelmingly people with zero contact with the actual RCP, or basis for evaluating its actual "work").

It is now a permanent fundraising machine for its central figure... with no public discussion of where those funds actually go.