Red Theory: The united front against monopoly capitalism
Our enemy is monopoly capitalism, the capitalist and imperialist system that exploits the working class here in the United States and oppresses whole nations of people, here and around the world. The monopoly capitalist class, the imperialists, are well organized, and control both the legal and political institutions of the government as well as the military and police. It will take the masses of the people in their millions to overthrow them. We can’t do it alone. The working class must be organized, and it must organize together broadly with its allies. This “united front” against monopoly capitalism is the revolutionary strategy that will carry us forward toward being able to overthrow the imperialists.
When some forces talk about a united front, they mean something like a coalition of communist groups and organizations. That is not what we mean. We need to be organized much more broadly than that, bringing whole classes and strata together under leadership of the working class and its party. When we talk about a united front, we are talking about building just such a broad movement, with the strategic alliance of the multinational working class and the oppressed nationalities at its core. The purpose of this is to establish and maintain a broad unity of action in opposition to the monopoly capitalist class.
The communist party – the Marxist-Leninist vanguard, organized, and advanced detachment and general staff of the working class that must eventually lead the united front – doesn't exist yet. It is through the mass organizing work in the people's struggles that we will build it, together with the united front itself.
We looked at the Marxist-Leninist conception of the “party of a new type” in a previous article. As we said, that party has a very high standard of unity, based on the working class and its ideology, Marxism-Leninism. It is organized according to democratic centralism and demands a great deal of long-term commitment and discipline from its cadre. Because of this, it will never be an organization that contains all of the forces necessary to bring down monopoly capitalism on its own. By standing at the center of the much larger united front, this broader unity and broader organization of the masses becomes possible.
If we understand the united front against monopoly capitalism as a united front of classes, led by the working class and directed against our common enemy, then an analysis of those classes to determine who our friends and enemies are is essential.
The best analysis of the current class structure of the United States is in the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) Program. That document looks at the various classes – the monopoly capitalists, the non-monopoly capitalists, the petty bourgeoisie, the working class, and the lumpen proletariat – and analyzes their class interests and trajectory. Based on that analysis, it concludes that the united front must unite everyone who can be united against the monopoly capitalists, including the petty bourgeoisie, whose existence as a class is precarious because of the monopoly capitalists, and the non-monopoly capitalists of the oppressed nationalities – the national bourgeoisie – who suffer national oppression under imperialism. The objective conditions of monopoly capitalism will push some elements within those classes in a revolutionary direction.
One particularity of U.S. imperialism is that it oppresses entire nations within its borders, such as the Chicano nation of Aztlan in the Southwest and the African American nation in the Black Belt South. Because of this, the Black and Chicano liberation movements within the U.S. have an anti-imperialist character. Practically, this means the struggle against racist national oppression must confront the monopoly capitalist class directly. The strategic alliance of the workers’ movement and the national liberation struggles forms the core of the united front for this reason.
Even so, as Mao Zedong said, within the united front, we must maintain our independence and initiative. The united front contains within it a unity and struggle of class forces. The forces we unite with have their own class interests and their own organizations. Some sections of the petty bourgeoisie and the Black and Chicano national bourgeoisie are still exploiting classes, even if not on the scale of the monopoly capitalists. As a class, they want to shake off the monopoly capitalists in order to stabilize and secure their own place in the capitalist system.
We can only lead the united front by persuasion and by example, and we must do our best to do so. To give up leadership would be disastrous. The working class, while seeking broad unity, cannot follow the lead of these other class forces or submit its own class interests to theirs. We can struggle for leadership in a way that prioritizes unity, without giving up our independence and initiative within the united front. Ultimately, only the class-conscious proletariat can lead the revolution towards the construction of socialism and the elimination of exploitation and oppression.
Let’s look more closely at what this looks like in practice. As we’ve discussed previously, the masses are the makers of history, and the correct method of leadership is “from the masses to the masses.” We need to unite broadly with the masses, using Marxism-Leninism to concentrate the felt needs and immediate demands of the masses and focus them towards the long term goal of revolution. We need to rely on the advanced activists in the mass movements to mobilize the broad intermediate, and to win over or isolate the backwards. This is the mass line, and it is how we must conduct our work in the united front. This is true in the current period when our work is legal and above ground, and it would likewise be true if conditions changed, and our work was outlawed and forced underground.
Practically, it plays out something like this: Different classes and strata within the masses come together based on their own class interests, and the advanced within them put forward demands, such as, for example, money for people's needs at home rather than for war abroad. Some mass organizations will be formed spontaneously, while others must be initiated based on the needs of the moment. In either case, the mass organizations formed around these fights will draw in activists from different classes affected by this issue. Our job as communists is to unite everyone who can be united and direct them towards confronting the monopoly capitalists that are the cause of the problem.
We will do everything we can to win all that can be won for the people while striking blows against the enemy. And in the course of that struggle we will make every effort to build consciousness and organization. By drawing in the broad intermediate we can build the mass organizations of the united front. Simultaneously, we can make gains towards building the communist party by winning the advanced to Marxism-Leninism.
The struggle for socialism in the United States will be a protracted struggle, and we must unite broadly with all of the allies we can find. Monopoly capitalism is a system that exploits and oppresses millions of people here and around the world. Therefore, it creates the conditions for us to build the broad unity we need to defeat it.