Progressive Labor Party on Race & Racism



Progressive Labor Party (PLP) fights to destroy capitalism and the dictatorship of the capitalist class. We organize workers, soldiers and youth into a revolutionary movement for communism.

Only the dictatorship of the working class — communism — can provide a lasting solution to the disaster that is today’s world for billions of people. This cannot be done through electoral politics, but requires a revolutionary movement and a mass Red Army led by PLP.

Worldwide capitalism, in its relentless drive for profit, inevitably leads to war, fascism, poverty, disease, starvation and environmental destruction. The capitalist class, through its state power — governments, armies, police, schools and culture —  maintains a dictatorship over the world’s workers. The capitalist dictatorship supports, and is supported by, the anti-working-class ideologies of racism, sexism, nationalism, individualism and religion.

While the bosses and their mouthpieces claim “communism is dead,” capitalism is the real failure for billions worldwide. Capitalism returned to Russia and China because socialism retained many aspects of the profit system, like wages and privileges. Russia and China did not establish communism.

Communism means working collectively to build a worker-run society. We will abolish work for wages, money and profits. Everyone will share in society’s benefits and burdens. 

Communism means abolishing racism and the concept of “race.” Capitalism uses racism to super-exploit black, Latino, Asian and indigenous workers, and to divide the entire working class.

Communism means abolishing the special oppression of women — sexism — and divisive gender roles created by the class society.

Communism means abolishing nations and nationalism. One international working class, one world, one Party.

Communism means that the minds of millions of workers must become free from religion’s false promises, unscientific thinking and poisonous ideology. Communism will triumph when the masses of workers can use the science of dialectical materialism to understand, analyze and change the world to meet their needs and aspirations.

  Communism means the Party leads every aspect of society. For this to work, millions of workers — eventually everyone — must become communist organizers. Join Us!


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Bolshevik Revolution Centennial Series: Bolsheviks’ Work in BAKU OIL FIELDS

This is the  part of in an extensive series about the Bolshevik Revolution and the triumphs, as well as the defeats, of the world communist movement of the 20th century. We welcome your comments and criticisms, and encourage all readers to discuss this period of history with their friends, classmates, co-workers, family, and comrades.
The following illustrates Bolshevik work under the Czar before the Revolution of 1917.

Progressive Labor Party is following in the footsteps of Bolshevik leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin in struggling to “fit the reform struggle into the revolutionary struggle,” making revolution primary. This is very hard to do when the bosses still rely on liberalism to fool the working class. But this liberalism is in the process of turning into fascism. If we have followed our line of “revolution and reform” and have prepared a base for communism among the working class, we will be prepared to turn the bosses’ fascism into its opposite—workers’ communist revolution. A look at the history of the Bolshevik party illustrates this.
In What Is To Be Done? (1902) Lenin denounced the tendency of putting trade union work around reform issues on an equal or even a higher footing with Party work. The “economist” or reformist outlook Lenin criticized was dominant in the Second International. It turned the German Social Democratic Party, the party of Marx and Engels, into a pro-imperialist, anti-worker party by 1914 (see Schorske, German Social Democracy). The Mensheviks, that part of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party with which Lenin and the Bolsheviks split, also practiced it. The occasion for this split in 1903 was Lenin’s insistence upon the primacy of illegal Party (revolutionary) work, and on making sure that communist politics guided all reform activity.
Baku Under Russian Empire
A study by U.S. historian Ronald Grigor Suny (published in Soviet Studies, 1972) shows how Stalin put Lenin’s strategy or ‘‘revolution over reform” into practice in the oil-producing Caspian region around Baku (present-day country of Azerbaijan) from 1907 to 1910. A. V. Williams Jackson of Columbia University wrote in his work From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam (1911):
Baku is a city founded upon oil…At present Baku produces one-fifth of the oil that is used in the world, and the immense output in crude petroleum from this single city far surpasses that in any other district where oil is found.
The Czar legalized land ownership in Baku, turning it into the oil capital of the world. Between the 1880s and 1900s, Baku belonged to the Nobels, the Rothschilds and more generally to the British oil bosses. Between 1856 and 1910 Baku’s population grew at a faster rate than that of London, Paris or New York. It is in the flashpoint of imperialism that the Bolsheviks, soon to lead the revolution in the next decade, organized class struggle.
Organize Among Most Oppressed
The workers fought hard against the oil bosses. After the workers’ rebellions of 1905-6 the oil bosses of Baku opted for liberalism, raising wages and legalizing unions. They hoped to divert the oil workers’ struggles towards reform, away from socialism at the time. The Mensheviks abandoned Party work and devoted themselves entirely to the Trade Union. Further, they organized only among skilled workers, who were mainly Russians.
A young Georgian leader in his late 20s, born into a struggling family, led the Bolsheviks who, under his urging, concentrated upon the unskilled industrial workers, who were mostly Muslim workers—most numerous, poorest, and most militant. His name was Joseph Stalin.
The bosses used racism to divide the workers: as Suny puts it, “Sometimes … workers of one nationality … were used as strikebreakers against workers of a different nationality.” The Bolsheviks insisted on fighting these racist divisions by uniting the separate unions of skilled and unskilled workers (the Mensheviks wanted to keep them separate). These workers were won to revolutionary politics and became fighters for the revolution.
Within five months of Stalin’s arrival in Baku in June 1907, the Bolsheviks had won over enough unskilled workers to capture the city committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party from the Mensheviks.
Leading Class Struggle
Following their new “liberal” policy, the oil bosses offered to set up a “conference…with equal worker-management representation, to work out a general labor agreement. Stalin was “militant and uncompromising. His attitude was consistently suspicious of compromise, wary of those who expected meaningful concessions from the industrialists in a conference” (Suny).
At first Stalin held out for a general strike and a boycott of the conference. When his position was defeated. Stalin led the Bolsheviks into the “conference” campaign under the platform that the workers’ representatives be the union leaders—mainly, Bolshevik revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks won 19,000 votes to the Mensheviks’ 8,000. Confronted with a workforce united under Bolshevik leadership, the bosses called off the conference, thus showing their true colors. As a result, the Bolsheviks won even more support.
Primacy of Preserving Underground Work
Another of Lenin’s tenets was the primacy of preserving illegal, underground Party work. Throughout this period of “liberalism,” Suny writes: “Stalin, while participating somewhat in union affairs, gave most of his strength to party work, of which he was in charge.”
By 1908 the bosses had dropped their liberal facade, outlawed the unions, and arrested their leaders. Stalin stayed out of prison for almost two more years and so was able to preserve Bolshevik organization under this period repression. Suny admits, “Stalin and the Left were vindicated in some sense in the next few years as the unions practically disappeared, and as the only center of Social Democratic activity that remained was hidden “deep in the underground.”
The Bolsheviks fought for the most left politics in a period of liberalism and repression. Though they were small, they embedded themselves in the class struggle, called out lesser-evil politics of the bosses, fought against racist divisions, and organized among the most oppressed group of workers. Only through organizing day in and day out, they recruited workers to join the fight for a better world.

Next issue, we will look at class struggle forged the Bolshevik Party in Transcaucasia.

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