The following document was drafted by CounterPower's Political Committee, and approved by a vote of our Coordinating Council as a draft for discussion to be circulated among our comrades in the U.S. communist movement. It is the first among a series of documents to form the basis of our organization’s political platform. Following a period of discussion and debate, CounterPower will convene an organizational congress to review all drafts for discussion, make the necessary amendments, and adopt a political platform.
CHAPTER III: BUILDING A SYSTEM OF COUNTERPOWER
3.1.1: The harbinger of the world commune of communes will be a global socialist revolution. This revolution will be born of the political struggle waged against the imperialist world-system by a revolutionary people’s movement, based on the class struggle of the proletariat and the liberation struggles of all oppressed social groups, especially colonized peoples and nations, queer and trans people, women, people with disabilities, and young people. In order to succeed, this revolutionary people’s movement will need to be coordinated by a revolutionary united front, led by an organized communist movement.
3.1.2: As this revolutionary people’s movement grows and develops—ultimately culminating in the socialist transition to communism—it will generate its own organs of counterpower, principally in the form of councils. These organs of counterpower may assume a variety of names and adopt a range of specific organized forms, as a cursory examination of history reveals. Thus we observe the formation of 'soviets' and 'factory committees' in Russia; 'revolutionary base areas' in China, Vietnam, and the Philippines; 'committees for the defense of the revolution' in Cuba; 'revolutionary people’s committees' in India; and 'consejos comunales' and 'colectivos' in Venezuela. Whatever names are chosen by the people's movement, whatever particular organizational forms are adopted by the struggling masses, it is clear that such organs of counterpower are the necessary vehicles for and expressions of mass participatory democracy, and the primary means through which the proletariat and all oppressed social groups are mobilized and engaged in the process of socialist transition.
3.1.3: As the crises of capitalist-imperialism intensify and a system of counterpower proliferates throughout the fabric of society, a situation of dual power will arise. In a dual-power situation, the organs of counterpower generated by the revolutionary people’s movement will struggle for hegemony against the power of the capitalist state. Within the context of the world-systemic crises of climate change, pandemics, recurring economic recessions and depressions, and imperialist wars, this will be a multidirectional and asymmetrical struggle in which we can expect multiple political forces to emerge with contending analyses, visions, strategies, and programs. Indeed, we expect that the revolutionary people's movement will need to wage a three-way fight against capitalist-imperialism, against fascism, and for a socialist transition to communism based on a democratic council system.
3.1.4: Historical experience reveals dual-power situations to be inherently unstable, typically resulting in either the successful revolutionary reconstitution of society, or vicious counter-revolutionary repression. The task of communists is to ensure that the outcome is a victorious socialist revolution and an uninterrupted socialist transition to communism. This can only be achieved if the organized communist movement leads from a stable position within the people’s movement, winning the masses to a revolutionary program and strategy.
3.1.5: However, the socialist transition to communism cannot be willed into existence irrespective of historical context. For a successful protracted revolutionary struggle for communism to be waged, certain objective and subjective conditions must prevail. Among the objective conditions required for socialist revolution are a level of scientific, technological, and economic development sufficient to meet people’s basic needs and develop their capacities on a mass scale; the presence and generalization of antagonistic social contradictions which can only be resolved through the revolutionary struggle of the masses, such as the class antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat; and the existence of both a working class and oppressed social groups who, by virtue of their structural positions within the processes of social production and reproduction, can successfully lead the revolutionary struggle to victory in the socialist transition to communism.
3.1.6: Today, in nearly all geographic zones of the imperialist world-system—spanning the countries of both the global peripheries and imperial core—the objective conditions for socialist revolution exist, though the immediate tasks of the socialist revolution will vary from country to country. Among the subjective conditions that must be present for the maturation of a revolutionary situation are the existence of a mass movement of workers and oppressed people, an organized communist movement with a growing mass base among the people, and a level of cultural development among the masses sufficient to clarify both the immediate and ultimate tasks of the socialist revolution. These subjective factors must be consciously prepared by communists. At present, the subjective conditions are severely lacking in nearly all countries of the imperial core. It is our conviction that the immediate task of revolutionaries residing within the imperial core is to bring these subjective factors to life.
3.1.7: When a combination of the necessary objective and subjective conditions emerges, a social formation will be primed for socialist revolution. However, in order for a revolutionary people’s movement to be successful, a revolutionary crisis must arise in which the ruling class is internally divided; large segments of the vacillating middle classes, sectors, and strata are won to the side of the revolutionary movement; and the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state is internally divided and significant fractions of this repressive apparatus are won to the people’s cause, ultimately forming a contingent of a revolutionary people’s army.
Revolutionary Organizing and the Pedagogy of Revolution
3.2.1: To organize is to develop and coordinate the collective capacities of people to act upon and change the world. When a collectivity begins to act, organizations are formed, understood as a collective of people sharing a common purpose, objectives, and decision-making structures. The basis of organization is solidarity, which provides the necessary level of social cohesion and cooperation for a collective to realize its purpose and achieve its objectives. In contrast, the basis of disorganization is individualism, in which everyone does their own thing. In addition to solidarity, the construction of an effective organization requires planning, accountability, shared responsibilities, discipline, and an internal division of labor. There can be no serious discussion of a socialist transition to communism without a serious discussion of organization.
3.2.2: Organizational processes develop dialectically through splits and mergers, advancements and retreats, in a constant ebb and flow that occurs within the broader historical movement and development of the socialist revolution. No organization can be successful without internal struggle on questions of both theory and practice.
3.2.3: The communist approach to organizing can be summarized with the four-part slogan: Unite the Advanced, Win the Intermediate, Develop the Backwards, Isolate and Defeat the Reactionaries. That is, we must aim to immediately unite those sections of the people in agreement with the organized communist movement’s political platform and program. These advanced comrades should be recruited to participate directly in building the people’s mass organizations and defense organizations—such as labor unions, tenant unions, student groups, cultural associations, and self-defense formations—and to join the ranks of a fighting communist party. Without uniting the advanced on the basis of a shared political platform and program, and binding them together through collective discipline and shared responsibilities, no further progress along the road to socialist revolution will be made. However, communists cannot limit ourselves to uniting the advanced. In order for the gospel of liberation to reach beyond the choir, we must win over those segments of the people who are in only partial agreement with the communist movement's platform and program.
3.2.4: Within a given social formation, there exist popular sectors who will agree with elements of a communist platform and program, but who do not yet share sufficient agreement to join a communist party nor identify openly with the organized communist movement. However, these intermediate sectors can be united around practical struggles for the improvement of material conditions which objectively move society closer to the socialist revolution and strengthen the organized communist movement. By working diligently alongside the intermediate sectors and earning their trust, revolutionaries can eventually win them to the communist movement's platform and program.
3.2.5: There are also social sectors who may share in common with the communist movement certain progressive standpoints on specific issues (such as the urgent necessity of winning material improvements in people’s living and working conditions), but who generally uphold backwards political views on other questions (such as gender, sexuality, race, religion, science, ecology, immigration, education, the right of oppressed peoples and nations to self-determination, the function of the state in class society, and so on). The backwards sectors of the people have a higher propensity to engage in anti-people behavior, such as preying upon and exploiting their own working-class communities for personal gain, or aligning with the local comprador bourgeoisie. The backwards social sectors must not be written off: communists must struggle with and alongside them in order to develop them politically and break them away from their backwards views and behaviors. However, under no circumstances should the communist movement cater to the views of the most backwards sectors of the people.
3.2.6: Finally, there are those segments of the population who are outright reactionaries. This includes fascists, racists, white nationalists, anticommunists, religious fundamentalists, and mafiosos. While certain reactionary opinions and perspectives may be shared by more progressive segments of the population (i.e. the intermediate and backwards sectors), what distinguishes the reactionaries is that they are politically organized around a common right-wing, counter-revolutionary, anti-people project. Therefore, the struggle within the people—the struggle within the movement of the working class and all oppressed social groups—must never accommodate to these sectors. Instead, the organized communist movement must seek to politically isolate, deplatform, and suppress the reactionaries and their organizations. With the victory of the socialist revolution, all reactionary organizations and movements will be immediately banned and their assets confiscated.
3.2.7: However, the process of uniting the advanced, winning the intermediate, developing the backwards, and isolating and defeating the reactionaries is not so straightforward. A coworker can be advanced on questions concerning racism and anti-racist struggle, but quite backwards on questions concerning capitalism and class struggle. A neighbor can be advanced on questions concerning gentrification and the housing struggle, yet quite backwards on questions of patriarchy and the struggle for gender liberation and reproductive freedom.
3.2.8: Here, we return to the practice of militant social investigation, and to revolutionary organizing in general. Specifically, we are concerned with the development and application of a dialogic pedagogy to the revolutionary process, or what the communist movement has historically referred to as the mass line method of revolutionary leadership. The mass line proposes that communists accompany the masses in struggle, listening to their ideas. The organizers then collect these scattered ideas and, in light of a historical materialist analysis and communist vision, they are synthesized into a program of action. This program is then shared with the masses. If adopted and embraced as their own, this program will determine the mass movement’s line of march, and be tested in struggle. Through struggle, the correctness of a given program is systematically determined in practice.
3.2.9: The mass line is an iterative method of leadership, applied repeatedly in a continuously expanding spiral. Deploying a dialogic pedagogy, the mass line seeks neither to impose a communist platform and program upon the people (as is the case with commandism), nor trail behind them by pandering to the lowest common denominator (as is the case with tailism). Rather, it seeks humble, honest, and authentic dialogue concerning the questions posed to all those who seek liberation from the horrors of capitalist-imperialism, and to bolster the autonomous capacities of those forces who can lead the socialist transition to communism.
3.2.10: The mass line bases itself on a mass perspective, asserting that the masses are the real makers of history, that the emancipation of the masses can only be an act of self-emancipation, that the masses must learn through collective experience that socialist revolution is both possible and necessary, and that the revolutionary people’s movement must reach ever-greater levels of self-organization. A revolutionary people develops from a non-revolutionary people, and it is only through dynamic revolutionary praxis that the latter is transformed into the former.
3.2.11: The mass line and the process of collective social learning associated with it can be summarized with the slogan: Unity→Struggle→Synthesis→Unity. That is, at any given level, the participants of an organization—be it a communist party organization, or a mass organization such as a labor union—must achieve a certain level of initial unity in order to act. This could be a comprehensive unity arising from a common political platform establishing the theoretical framework, analysis, vision, and strategy shared by all members of that organization. Alternatively, it could be a more limited unity formed on the basis of tactical agreement in relation to a specific objective or campaign, such as the struggle to increase wages or lower the cost of living. In the course of applying the mass line method of leadership to ongoing political practice and the summation of lessons learned through this practice, contradictions emerge around which there is struggle. Through struggle, these contradictions are resolved or the path is identified for their future resolution, and a synthesis is achieved. Armed with this synthesis, a new and expanded level of unity is established, and a new cycle of struggle is subsequently unleashed on a higher level.
3.2.12: The mass line incorporates three core principles:
In general, we can summarize this praxis as one of accompaniment: communists must accompany the masses in their day-to-day life and struggles, learning with them and earning their trust through participation and practice, prior to making programmatic proposals.
Networking Mass Vanguards
3.3.1: In the course of mass social struggles, there emerge advanced political detachments, or mass vanguards, which have the capacity to organize, unite, and lead a larger mass social movement. The concept of a mass vanguard should not be confused with a self-selecting elite who, by virtue of holding the "correct" ideology, are endowed by history with the exclusive right to lead the masses (even in the absence of a mass social base!). Against this elitist misconception, we assert that a mass vanguard does not exist separate from the social body it serves, but forms an organic component of it: thus the vanguard of the working class is internal to that class, arising organically from the development of the class struggle itself. An objective historical analysis reveals that, within a particular historical conjuncture, there emerge such advanced political detachments from within the working class and oppressed social groups, who play a leading role in pointing popular social movements in a revolutionary direction. It is precisely the imperialist bourgeoisie who seek to separate vanguard detachments from the masses, thus depriving the people of an advanced political leadership capable of organizing, uniting, and coordinating the revolutionary struggle against capitalist-imperialism. This is precisely why U.S. imperialism's repression of the Black Liberation Movement past and present has been so extreme, for it has historically constituted one of the most politically advanced sections of U.S. society.
3.3.2: As should be clear, our conception of a mass vanguard is not synonymous with a specific party organization. While a genuine revolutionary party must strive to unite and achieve fusion with the most politically advanced detachments to emerge from the masses in the course of the protracted revolutionary struggle, and this party can perform a vanguard-function at a specific historical conjuncture, there is no point at which a communist political organization completely and permanently merges with the mass vanguards of the working class and oppressed social groups. Rather, a revolutionary party must be grasped as a specific type of political instrument, whereas mass vanguards are formed organically through the historical development of mass social struggles. Thus a mass vanguard could refer to a specific organized section of the working class, such as logistics workers, or to the liberation struggle of an oppressed social group, such as Black and Indigenous communities, who objectively perform a vanguard-function within the broader people's movement.
3.3.3: Historically, we have seen mass vanguards emerge in specific social locations which objectively constituted the most politically advanced sections of the struggling masses in their corresponding conjuncture. We can locate mass vanguards among the first soviets formed in the industrial districts of Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 1905 Revolution, the soldiers and sailors of the Kronstadt military garrison in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Chinese Peasants’ Association of Hunan in the Autumn Harvest Uprising of 1927, the CNT defense committees and barrio unions in the Spanish Revolution of 1936, the Black autoworkers of the Revolutionary Union Movement in Detroit in 1968, and the autonomous assemblies formed by southern migrant workers in the factories of northern Italy in the 1970s. In each case, it was the programmatic demands raised and struggles waged by these political detachments which pointed to the next logical phase of revolutionary struggle, and from which the socialist revolution’s organs of counterpower emerged.
3.3.4: Thus the task of a fighting communist party is to identify and achieve the maximum degree of fusion possible with mass vanguards by learning from, accompanying, supporting, defending, and participating in the mass social struggles they lead. On this basis, a consolidated mass vanguard—united with the organized communist movement—can lead the revolutionary people’s movement to victory in the struggle against capitalist-imperialism, identifying the ultimate aims and programmatic objectives of the people’s movement. It is often the mass vanguards who lead, and it is the communist revolutionaries who must catch-up.
3.4.1: Prior to the seizure of power by the masses, the central task of the communist movement is to hasten the socialist revolution through the construction of a system of counterpower which can defeat capitalist-imperialism and establish itself as the institutional basis of the socialist people’s commune. During the course of the protracted revolutionary struggle against capitalist-imperialism, and continuing with the establishment of a socialist people’s commune, four primary types of organized autonomy—the organizational forms through which the masses can overthrow and abolish capitalist-imperialism while constructing the foundations of a communist society—will need to be consciously built. These include: people’s mass organizations, people’s defense organizations, revolutionary party organizations, and the revolutionary united front. It is essential for communists to understand the role of each organizational form in the socialist revolution, as well as the range of possible configurations among these forms within a system of counterpower.
3.4.2: Communists must begin building a system of counterpower by creating an area of autonomy through which the diffuse organizational forms created by the masses in struggle can coalesce into increasingly dense networks of communication, cooperation, and coordination. From within this diffuse area of autonomy, and on the basis of the revolutionary united front, the organized communist movement can eventually establish and consolidate revolutionary base areas in which the masses learn to govern and administer society while sustaining the protracted revolutionary struggle against capitalist-imperialism. In the absence of a revolutionary united front led by an organized communist movement, the formation of relatively stable revolutionary base areas will prove impossible. In the context of a revolutionary crisis, it is from these base areas that the revolutionary counter-offensive against the capitalist state can be effectively launched and generalized throughout the fabric of society.
People’s Mass Organizations
3.5.1: It is through mass organizations that the proletariat and oppressed social groups develop revolutionary consciousness and capacities for self-organization and self-activity. It is only with the proliferation of mass organizations in all spheres of social life that the potential arises for the people to advance from partial struggles for concrete material improvements in everyday working and living conditions to a general revolutionary struggle for political power, for it is through mass organizations that the masses of people learn to govern and administer society. Mass organizations must prove that not only can the masses competently assume responsibilities for the governance and administration of all facets of social life, but they must also demonstrate to the general population that the socialist people’s commune will bring with it a better way of life.
3.5.2: The membership of a mass organization should be broad, and the mass organization itself should both defend and advance the everyday material interests of the masses of people (on broad fronts of struggle encompassing wages, rent, healthcare, education, transportation, pollution, and so on), while simultaneously prefiguring the democratic and cooperative social relations of a communist society. Mass organizations are thus simultaneously weapons of political combat wielded by the people in the struggle against capitalist-imperialism, and schools of communism through which the masses of workers and oppressed peoples are prepared for the revolutionary tasks of building and defending the socialist people’s commune.
3.5.3: Under the banner of people’s mass organizations, we can include all forms of organization constructed by the masses for the defense and improvement of working and living conditions; for their intellectual and cultural enlightenment; for their physical and emotional health; and for the cultivation of their capacities to govern and administer society. This includes: class-struggle labor unions, rank-and-file opposition caucuses formed within the reformist labor unions, worker and consumer cooperatives, tenant unions, unemployed councils, neighborhood associations, youth and student organizations, women’s organizations, queer and trans organizations, anti-racist and national liberation organizations, veterans’ organizations, political prisoner defense committees, revolutionary prisoners’ organizations, people’s law collectives, communal healthcare clinics, mutual aid disaster relief organizations, educational and cultural institutions, organizations fighting to defend human rights and civil liberties, and the federations of workers’ councils and communal people's councils which will constitute the institutional basis for the socialist people’s commune, and which can unite these disparate organizational forms at the local, regional, and territorial level.
3.5.4: Through the growth and development of the revolutionary people’s movement, through the conscious intervention of revolutionary cadre, and with the maturation of a revolutionary situation, people’s mass organizations can be transformed into genuine organs of counterpower. Through these bastions of revolutionary people’s power, the masses come to exercise direct control over the decisions that affect their lives and the resources upon which they depend. Through mass organizations the people can transform the social relations which govern their everyday lives.
People’s Defense Organizations
3.6.1: The imperialist bourgeoisie and the forces of counter-revolutionary reaction will never allow the revolutionary people’s movement to peacefully dismantle the imperialist world-system, nor will they stand idly by as organs of counterpower proliferate and coalesce as revolutionary base areas, ultimately consolidating as a system of revolutionary people’s power throughout the territory in the socialist transition to communism. While the political organization and mobilization of the masses is primary, the organized communist movement will need to consciously develop the defensive military capacities of the proletariat and all oppressed social groups in order to resist the armed counter-revolution; prepare, sustain, and lead to victory an insurrectionary struggle against capitalist-imperialism; and defend the socialist people’s commune from the inevitable counter-revolutionary siege.
3.6.2: It is through the formation of people’s defense organizations in every workplace and neighborhood that the masses can consolidate past gains while advancing the construction of a system of counterpower, centralize diffuse sites of struggle into revolutionary base areas, and establish a genuine revolutionary people’s army capable of leading the construction and defense of the socialist people’s commune. Only a direct struggle waged against capitalist-imperialism by the revolutionary people's movement—including a significant section of the established armed forces joining the ranks of the revolutionary movement—can lead to the construction and defense of a socialist people’s commune.
3.6.3: Always and everywhere, people’s defense organizations should be directly accountable to the people’s revolutionary movement. Their social composition should reflect the proletariat and oppressed social groups of the society from which such organizations emerge, and their units should root themselves within the everyday social struggles of the masses, organizing self-defense training, mutual aid and disaster relief programs, and social reconstruction efforts. Once established as a genuine revolutionary people’s army, within every unit a political officer should be appointed by the military commission of the united front (and later by the military commission of the commune’s defense council) to ensure that all military affairs are strictly subordinated to the political objectives of the socialist revolution. While a particular defense organization may initially emerge as the military arm of a specific revolutionary party or mass organization, the aim should be to unite all people’s defense organizations as a revolutionary people’s army, coordinated by the revolutionary united front. With the eventual establishment of a socialist people’s commune, the revolutionary defense council of the commune should immediately assume direct responsibility for all military affairs.
A Fighting Communist Party
3.7.1: We aim to build a fighting communist party that can lead the construction, defense, and generalization of a system of counterpower, culminating in the formation of a socialist people’s commune and subsequent transition to the initial phase of communist society. A fighting communist party must strive to become a party of the proletariat and all oppressed social groups through the direct participation of its members in the everyday social struggles of the masses. It must work tirelessly to fuse itself with the people, becoming a party of workers, colonized peoples and nations, queer and trans people, women, migrants, soldiers, veterans, youth, elders, and students.
3.7.2: A fighting communist party must establish itself as a tribune of the people by taking a firm stand against every manifestation of exploitation, oppression, and injustice perpetrated against the masses by capitalist-imperialism, organizing for the defense and improvement of the people’s working and living conditions. It must be a party that leads by listening, engaging the masses in dialogue through social investigation and by applying the mass line in the formulation of its political platform and program.
3.7.3: A fighting communist party must earn a reputation as a defender of democracy within every mass organization in which its cadre participate, developing the people’s capacities to self-manage the revolutionary struggle itself in preparation for the people’s governance and administration of society in the socialist transition to communism. A fighting communist party must prove itself to be a party of autonomy, never imposing its will upon the masses but earning their trust through dialogue and common participation in struggle. Such a party must serve always and everywhere to develop and expand the people’s revolutionary consciousness and capacities for self-determination, as exercised directly through organs of revolutionary people’s power—principally in the form of popular democratic councils.
3.7.4: Only as a tribune of the people and defender of popular democracy can a fighting communist party establish an organic link with the masses, and only with this organic link established will a revolutionary people be prepared to challenge the imperialist world-system and capitalist state, sustain a protracted revolutionary struggle against capitalist-imperialism, seize political power throughout the territory, and lead the socialist transition to communism.
3.7.5: Through the participation of a party’s cadre in the revolutionary people’s movement—including the construction of mass organizations, defense organizations, and the revolutionary united front—it proves itself to be an effective leader by guiding local, regional, national, and international struggles for immediate demands to victory. In this way, the party proves in practice that it is the champion of the people’s cause, winning concrete material improvements in their living and working conditions. Only in this way will the masses be won to the platform and program of the organized communist movement and to the ultimate victory of the socialist revolution to which it is dedicated.
3.7.6: We are against the substitution of a party for the autonomous initiative of the masses. Rather, a fighting communist party must facilitate the development of revolutionary consciousness among the proletariat and all oppressed social groups, deepening collective self-awareness of their historical tasks.
3.7.7: A revolutionary party engages in social investigations among the people in order to synthesize a revolutionary program based on the emancipatory content which emerges organically from the social struggles of the masses. It scaffolds mass organizations and defense organizations through which the working class and oppressed social groups advance and defend their collective material interests while simultaneously learning to govern society.
3.7.8: A fighting communist party serves as a key link connecting disparate fronts of struggle into a multi-sector united front. Through its united front work the party constitutes the leading organ of insurrectional struggle against capitalist-imperialism and for the construction and defense of the socialist people’s commune.
3.7.9: A communist political organization is forged into a fighting communist party by gathering, training, and coordinating frontline organizers, or cadre, from among the people; achieving a critical mass of communist political forces concentrated throughout key strategic chokepoints and faultlines in society; and by successfully building an organization that spans the capitalist nation-state in both size and scope. These cadre embed themselves within the everyday life and struggles of the masses, exhibiting the ethical conduct, political coherence, personal responsibility, collective discipline, and style of work expected and demanded from members of a revolutionary party. These party cadre constitute the core personnel around which the various components of the revolutionary people’s movement—encompassing people’s mass organizations, people’s defense organizations, and the revolutionary united front—can be concentrically constructed.
3.7.10: The party organization serves as a space of collective learning through ongoing political education, technical training, and self-critical assessment and summation of experience, which together enable the dialectical development of revolutionary theory and practice, or praxis. A party’s praxis should be continuously analyzed, evaluated, and verified through dialogue with the masses, accompanying them in their everyday lives, participating in their everyday struggles, and becoming one with them. A revolutionary party builds the revolutionary people’s movement, which in turn shapes and transforms the revolutionary party. Prospective members of the party should be required to apply for admission, pay dues in accordance with the organization’s dues policy, and participate in both mass work and party work on a regular basis.
3.7.11: The work of a party member should be conducted as a part of a working collective, such as a party branch in a city or town, or a party cluster, cell, or fraction composed of members concentrated in a common sector of struggle. Until a dense network of party branches and clusters permeates all sectors of struggle and all major geographic locations of a country, in regular communication with and assisted by the central coordinating bodies of the party, it cannot be said that a party exists.
3.7.12: A fighting communist party must synthesize and internalize lessons learned through past and present experiences of revolutionary struggle, systematizing them in the form of a political platform and program that can serve as a guide for future practice. Internal discussion and debate on all questions should never be stifled, and a plurality of revolutionary perspectives should be welcomed within the parameters established by the organization’s general political line. To advance these goals, the organization should be self-managed by the party membership, not a bureaucratic party elite. Technical knowledge and competencies should be well-developed and generalized among the party rank and file in order to enable an effective division of labor and equitable rotation of tasks. The party should strive for the active participation of all members in the administration of the party organization, and uphold the most rigorous democratic processes for internal decision-making and organizational planning. At the same time, members should be bound by a disciplined commitment to implementing and defending the political platform, program, and policies of the party organization.
3.7.13: Recognizing that the masses are the real makers of history, the cadre of a fighting communist party must root themselves in the everyday life and struggles of the masses. This means taking strategic positions within the processes of social production and reproduction—from the workplace to the neighborhood—with the aim of building people’s mass organizations that can resist exploitative and oppressive social relations, struggle for material improvements in the standards of living for the masses, and scaffold and prefigure the institutional infrastructure of the socialist people’s commune in the midst of a mass revolutionary uprising of the people. It is through successful social insertion that a fighting communist party can fuse with the masses, imbuing grassroots social movements with a militant, emancipatory, and autonomous character. It is from such strategic social positions that communist party organizers can expand the infrastructure of the revolutionary people’s movement through the construction of people’s mass organizations, people’s defense organizations, and the revolutionary united front.
3.7.14: The construction of autonomous mass organizations of the proletariat and all oppressed social groups is the most pressing task for a fighting communist party. Communists must aim to construct mass organizations which are autonomous in the sense that they are independent of the imperialist world-system and capitalist state, the political parties of the bourgeoisie and their allies (including the non-profit industrial complex). Mass organizations must be the organized expressions of the people’s struggle for collective liberation and self-determination. The process through which the members of the communist movement organize, build, and network the people’s mass organizations is known as mass work.
3.7.15: The ranks of a revolutionary party should be sufficiently closed in order to foster and ensure coherence of theory and practice, consolidating cadre around a clear analysis, vision, and strategy, and sufficiently open to continuously recruit new cadre, cultivate and deepen connections with the masses, and adapt to new situations. Inside the fighting communist party there must be sufficient cadre to articulate, reproduce, and apply the party’s political platform, program, and policies internally and within their respective sector of mass struggle.
3.7.16: Mass organizations formed by the proletariat based in workplaces and neighborhoods, and mass organized formed by social groups facing special forms of oppression (such as gender or racial oppression), emerge in the midst of mass struggles around specific grievances, injustices, and demands, and constitute the primary organs through which the masses of people begin to assert their political power and exercise control over the decisions that affect their lives and the resources upon which they depend. People’s mass organizations are simultaneously weapons of struggle in the fight for concrete material improvements in the living and working conditions of the masses, and schools of communism through which the people develop their capacities to govern society. It is through social insertion and mass work that communists assist the construction of mass organizations. The culmination of this process is the formation of system of counterpower based on a federative council system. Through strategic social insertion and mass work, communists can assist the process of connecting people’s mass organizations across multiple sectors of struggle, laying the basis for the eventual establishment of the revolutionary united front.
3.7.17: The organized communist movement is internationalist in both worldview and praxis, recognizing that the socialist revolution must be global in character, uniting the liberation struggles of the global working class and oppressed peoples and nations of the world in a common struggle against capitalist-imperialism. We must actively learn from past and present international revolutionary experiences—especially the First, Second, and Third Internationals—and begin the work of rebuilding global networks of communication, cooperation, and coordination among all revolutionary parties and collectives on the basis of equal rights and responsibilities.
3.7.18: A new international communist center must ground itself in mutual respect for the particularities of the struggles of distinct peoples and nations prevailing within specific social formations, and thus respect the organizational autonomy of the various localized expressions of the people’s revolutionary movement. Every revolutionary party organization is best positioned to investigate and analyze the particular conditions faced by the masses with whom its cadre interface, and should be encouraged to develop the autonomous capacity to respond to the unique situations encountered and formulate principled policies and programs accordingly. However, principled critique and comradely exchange of lessons learned through experience must be upheld, particularly in the global struggle against various forms of opportunism, revisionism, sectarianism, chauvinism, and dogmatism. Political differences will persist among revolutionary parties and collectives, but we must not wait for these differences to be resolved before taking the initiative to achieve a high-level of communication, cooperation, and coordination among the revolutionary forces of the world in the form of an international communist center.
3.7.19: While we recognize that a multiplicity of specific party organizations will be formed in the course of the revolutionary process, communists should work establish networks to facilitate regional and global communication, cooperation, and coordination among all revolutionary parties and collectives, thereby strengthening the overall unity of the organized communist movement. From such regional and international associations we can advance towards the establishment of a world party of parties, committed to the solidarity of liberation movements globally and the construction and defense of the world commune of communes.
3.7.20: In order to unite the diverse array of mass organizations and defense organizations generated by the people’s revolutionary movement in a coordinated struggle against capitalist-imperialism, a revolutionary party organization is necessary. The function of a fighting communist party is to cultivate the autonomous capacities of the proletariat and oppressed social groups in their struggle for liberation, building the capacities of the mass organizations of the proletariat and oppressed social groups to take into their hands the tasks of general social administration and coordination, and, ultimately, assist the formation of a collective political subject—a revolutionary people—capable of seizing political power and leading the socialist transition to communism. This party should be rooted among and led by the masses of workers and oppressed peoples, uniting the most advanced fighters for communism around a common political platform and program.
3.7.21: A revolutionary party aims to root itself among the proletariat and all oppressed social groups, supporting and participating in their everyday struggles. The development of a revolutionary party is a dialectical process, whereby it organizes while being simultaneously organized by the masses. In contrast to bourgeois political parties, a fighting communist party is a political combat organization engaged in the protracted revolutionary struggle to overthrow and abolish the imperialist world-system, and subsequently lead the masses in a process of communist social reconstruction.
3.7.22: The cadre of a fighting communist party do not approach the masses pretending as if they have all the answers, calling upon them to simply join and follow the party. Rather, through social insertion and mass work, the cadre of a revolutionary party sink root among the masses, accompanying them in their everyday life and struggles, assisting the development of revolutionary consciousness, and supporting the self-organization and self-activity of the masses through the construction of autonomous mass organizations, a revolutionary people’s army, and the revolutionary united fronts. If done effectively, our comrades in struggle will ask how they can support, join, and build the party, for they will feel its necessity and recognize its utility in practice through their own experiences in struggle. If no such conversations occur, then it is the task of the party organization to reflect upon its theory and practice, and to rectify all errors on the basis of self-critical assessment and summation.
3.7.23: A revolutionary party should aim to articulate the communist content implicit in mass struggles by means of mass work, principally in the form of militant social investigations that combine a practice of inquiry with relentless agitation, education, and organization for communism; and connect areas of autonomy composed of heterogeneous—and at times contradictory—social forces, reaching an organizational apex first with the formation of a revolutionary united front, and later with the establishment of the socialist people’s commune.
3.7.24: We should strive to unite all those who can be united under the banner of a fighting communist party, bringing together all who accept its platform and program, its organizational discipline and praxis. We should strive to permanently improve the revolutionary praxis of such a party through social investigations conducted with the masses, and through the process of criticism, self-criticism, and summation. Utilizing these methods, a party organization can continually improve its connections with and relations among the masses in their struggle for liberation.
3.7.25: However, within the revolutionary party organization itself, members must wage struggles over the party’s general political line—its platform, program, and day-to-day praxis—as well as the party’s line on specific questions facing the revolutionary people’s movement and the society to which the party belongs. Thus the proletarian class struggle and the liberation struggle against all forms of oppression continues within the revolutionary party itself. To achieve this aim, room must be made for the formation of tendencies, factions, and caucuses within the party. However, the aim of such groupings must always to be to establish unity on a new basis through comradely struggle, operating within the parameters established by the party's constitution. The party must struggle over and address the questions: which class or classes, and which social groups, does a particular line and policy serve?
3.7.26: Even within a specific country, the organized communist movement should be sufficiently pluralist to permit the emergence of multiple communist parties. At a given conjuncture, no single revolutionary organization—be it a fighting communist party or a revolutionary mass organization—is likely to have all the answers to the questions confronting the revolutionary people’s movement. Based on an objective assessment of historical experience, we can assume that with the development of the revolutionary process, multiple revolutionary parties will emerge. Instead of seeking to subsume all differences among revolutionary parties, the organized communist movement should strive to become a center of multi-party coordination. While at a given conjuncture a specific party organization may play a leading role within the organized communist movement and the revolutionary people’s movement, the leadership of this party must be continuously renewed and cannot be declared or guaranteed in advance. Line struggles internal to a party organization will not always result in successfully maintaining the unity of that party. Therefore, freedom of criticism and association of communists should be preserved and encouraged within the organized communist movement in order to ensure that the correct political line wins out. For example, in the settler-colonial context of the U.S. it is likely that there will emerge multiple communist parties among colonized peoples and nations, particularly among the Black, Indigenous, and Xicanx communities. While it is desirable to construct a multiracial, multinational communist party uniting the proletariat and all oppressed social groups across lines of race and nationality, this organizational unity cannot be presumed: doing so would violate the principle of self-determination for oppressed peoples and nations, including political autonomy.
3.7.27: To unify the organized communist movement, we propose the construction of multi-party coordinating networks. Instead of sects competing with each other for dominance, within network each party organization could operate as a complementary part of a more complex whole, while still achieving an effective level of programmatic, strategic, and tactical unity. It is crucial that we build a communist movement capable of respecting the relative autonomy of its affiliate organizations, and distributing leadership functions throughout this multiparty network.
3.7.28: In a context in which various forms of social chauvinism—such as white chauvinism, imperial chauvinism, national chauvinism, male chauvinism, etc.—hold sway over the consciousness of the masses in the imperial core, and in which the labor aristocracy and political conservatism maintain hegemony over the organized labor movement, a fighting communist party is necessary to break the masses away from capitalist-imperialist hegemony and win them to the cause of socialist revolution.
3.7.29: Within the organized communist movement itself, a non-sectarian culture must be consciously developed, making room for the possibility of multiple revolutionary party organizations cooperating in a common struggle and constructing effective mechanisms of inter-party communication, cooperation, and coordination.
3.7.30: A multi-party communist movement with a high-level of organic centralization and coordination is not without precedent. During revolutionary armed struggles in El Salvador and Guatemala, the revolutionary movement established multi-party coordinating networks through which a plurality of revolutionary political perspectives contended, and line struggle continued within each affiliate party and throughout the multi-party network itself. In Turkey and Kurdistan today, a similarly pluralistic revolutionary movement has emerged. Furthermore, the loss of a multi-party coalition during the Russian Revolution exacerbated many authoritarian and bureaucratic tendencies emerging within the incipient council republic. We believe that maintaining an openness to integration and coordination with all genuinely communist political organizations—without papering over theoretical, strategic, and practice differences, nor foregoing principled struggle over the general political line and practice of the organized communist movement—should be upheld as a preferable alternative to a mechanical process of homogenization. Rather, the centralization of the organized communist movement must be achieved through an organic process.
3.7.31: Within the context of settler-colonial nation-states, it is likely that there will emerge multiple communist parties anchored among different sectors of society, specifically among colonized peoples. Thus we can envision the emergence of Black, Indigenous, and Xicanx communist parties parallel to a multinational and interracial communist party, but unified under the umbrella of a multiparty coordinating network. Furthermore, we can anticipate the emergence of communist parties upholding divergent lines on important political questions of a theoretical or programmatic nature. While resolving these differences and achieving a higher-level of unity through line struggle is desirable, unity cannot be forced upon the communist movement in an artificial manner. In order to consolidate the organized communist movement, we must forge bonds of solidarity among multiple revolutionary parties through common practice, grounded in mutual respect for the relative independence of each organization, and a shared recognition that no one organization or tendency can or will have all the answers. On this basis, it will be possible to develop a general platform and program for the organized communist movement and its constituent parties.
3.7.32: The military organization of a communist party must be at all times be subordinated to the political leadership of that party. To the extent that a party military organization is used to scaffold a people’s army, it must remain under strict party control prior to the emergence of a revolutionary united front and a general arming of the masses. To the extent that a party military organization constitutes only one group among many which collectively constitute the defense forces of the revolutionary united front, then it must be subordinated along with all other such organizations to the command structure and directives of the united front’s central military commission.
3.7.33: Whether the socialist revolution is led by a singular communist party or a multiparty communist coordinating network, communists should seek the maximum level of unity possible among all genuinely revolutionary forces. This can only be achieved if a democratic culture prevails within the organized communist movement, and if there is free exchange of ideas and perspectives among comrades.
3.7.34: A fighting communist party must establish people’s schools as a means of disseminating its platform and program, of receiving criticism, and of building political unity and cohesion among the most advanced sections of the masses. The party should further develop cadre schools for the purposes of teaching and training—and constantly expanding—the organized core of the party from among the rank-and-file party membership.
3.7.35: In order for the party to succeed, it must engage in systematic strategic, operational, and tactical planning. To the greatest extent possible, the mass of party members should be involved in the formulation, review, debate, and adoption of all organizational plans. The progress of every plan should be reviewed at all relevant levels. If the party belongs to a multi-party coordinating network, then this network should strive for the maximum integration of the strategic, operational, and tactical planning process among the affiliate party organizations.
3.7.36: To the greatest extent possible, the party should strive to combine strategic centralization with operational and tactical decentralization. The central organs of the party—its political and organizational center—should, following extensive discussion and debate, democratically adopt a strategic plan for the organization, corresponding to the general strategic line outlined in the party’s platform and program. On the basis of both the general strategy and strategic plan, the regional and local units of the party should further elaborate operational and tactical plans. These units are best positioned to actually assess the conditions in their region and locale, and thereby formulate the most effective operational and tactical plans.
The United Front
3.8.1: The organized communist movement must unite the various expressions of organized autonomy generated by the proletariat and oppressed social groups—specifically people’s mass organizations and defense organizations—into a system of counterpower that can smash the capitalist state, delink the social formation from the imperialist world-system, and build a socialist people's commune on the road to establishing the world commune of communes. We call this strategic alliance of all revolutionary and progressive social forces the revolutionary united front.
3.8.2: The united front is an umbrella organization that functions as a center of coordination and space of convergence for the various organized expressions of the revolutionary people’s movement, and itself forms the embryo of the commune’s system of revolutionary people’s power.
3.8.3: Through tactical united fronts—alliances formed to win immediate objectives, such as material improvements in living and working conditions, or specific policy changes—the organized communist movement can win the masses to a revolutionary platform and program. On the basis of their common participation in tactical united fronts, revolutionaries advance the construction of a strategic united front formed to pursue a revolutionary platform and program, the ultimate culmination of this organizational process being the emergence of a council-based system of counterpower. As this system is consolidated under the leadership and direction of a strategic united front, it forms a revolutionary bloc of the proletariat and all oppressed social groups, capable of initiating an insurrectionary rupture with capitalist-imperialism, conquering political power throughout the territory, and establishing the infrastructural basis for the construction of a socialist people's commune.
3.8.4: The highest expression of the revolutionary united front is to be found in the emergence of a network of industrial workers’ councils and communal people’s councils. It is through these participatory and democratic assemblies of the proletariat and all oppressed peoples that the various organized expressions of revolutionary struggle converge and begin to exercise governmental and administrative functions, ultimately supplanting the organs of the capitalist state with the establishment of the socialist people’s commune.
3.8.5: As an organized revolutionary bloc sharing a common platform and program of struggle, the revolutionary united front should be governed by a revolutionary defense council consisting of delegates elected by and accountable to each affiliate organization. This revolutionary defense council will be the leading force in establishing a provisional revolutionary government immediately following an insurrectionary rupture that destroys the capitalist state, taking initiative to implement initial transitional measures, proclaiming the establishment of a socialist people’s commune, and convening a commune-wide people’s assembly to adopt a communal constitution and confirm governmental appointments. During the phase of transition, the united front will mobilize to defend and expand the initial gains of the socialist revolution and lead the process of revolutionary social reconstruction.
3.8.6: The leadership of a fighting communist party within the united front cannot be secured in advance. Despite the leading role a party may play in the construction of the people’s mass organizations and defense organizations, its leadership among the masses must be earned. As we have consistently emphasized, a true revolutionary party leads by listening. The hegemony of a revolutionary party is secured only through the accompaniment and participation of its cadre in the social struggles of the masses. It is through this dialogic relationship that the political platform and program of the party can be tested and verified in practice.
3.9.1: Occupying the liminal space between mass organization and party organization, intermediate organizations are an important instrument through which the revolutionary people's movement can develop concurrently with the organized communist movement. Intermediate organizations serve as vehicles for heightening the militancy of the masses and raising their political consciousness. Intermediate organizations should be broad enough to unite those sections of the people who want to fight back on a specific issue—especially when the established mass organizations fail or refuse to do so—yet specific enough to enable the consolidation of the most politically advanced sections of the people around a revolutionary platform and program. A specific party organization or network of party organizations may initiate such intermediate organizations, or they may arise organically from the pressing needs of mass struggles.
3.9.2: Broadly conceived, the aim of an intermediate organization should be to establish and consolidate a revolutionary tendency within mass organizations, to circulate perspectives and proposals among the mass organization's membership, to make demands upon reformist or reactionary leaders of the mass organization, to democratize the internal life of the mass organization, and ultimately win the mass organization's constituent base to a communist platform and program. Through such a process, intermediate organizations can successfully transform reformist and bureaucratic mass organizations into genuine instruments of people's power. Alternatively, in the absence of an established mass organization in its target area of work, an intermediate organization could lay the groundwork for its eventual transformation into a mass organization. Intermediate organizations could also include cultural and educational associations with a broad but explicit revolutionary orientation, as was the case with the International Union of Revolutionary Writers and the People's Songs and People's Artists organizations. Or they could be established to raise awareness of and provide support for revolutionary struggles internationally, as in the case of the Venceremos Brigade, which, in defiance of the embargo imposed by U.S. imperialism, has provided mutual aid and popular education trips to Cuba since 1969.
3.9.3: Through intermediate organizations, communists can initiate and facilitate political debates on a range of questions spanning theory, analysis, vision, strategy, tactics, and organization. Historically, intermediate organizations have been formed within diverse mass social struggles, such as youth and student movements, anti-racist and decolonial movements, feminist movements, the labor movement, and international solidarity movements. Examples include the Trade Union Educational League (inside the American Federation of Labor), the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (inside the United Auto Workers), the Miners Right to Strike Committee (inside the United Mineworkers of America), and the United Caucuses of Rank-and-file Educators (inside the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association).
3.9.4: Intermediate organizations could also be established by, and maintain formal affiliations with, a specific party organization, as has been the case with various communist youth and student organizations throughout history. Such organizations can provide a vital means for the people to explore communist politics, gain important political experiences, and learn more about the platform and program of a specific party, prior to making the leap of becoming a member of that party.
3.9.5: The lifespan of a given intermediate organization will vary. While an intermediate organization may emerge to rally forces around a specific issue (such as reproductive freedom, the right to strike, or the defense of political prisoners), it may nonetheless prove to have significant longevity. In other cases, it may prove that its time has come and gone with the tide of struggle around that issue. Intermediate organizations formed to wage a struggle to transform a specific mass organization—such as rank-and-file caucuses working to transform the politics, praxis, and culture of the established labor unions—typically prove to have more long-lasting relevance. Far from needing to dissolve if and when their members are elected to leadership within the mass organization, their continuing existence can prove to be an important vehicle for ensuring internal democracy, leadership accountability, and a militant orientation and practice.