Yet, despite our knowledge of the objective processes of capitalism through Marxism-Leninism, we cannot know all the nuances of the subjective experiences of the masses and how these nuances affect the course of the class struggle without first investigating.
It is our duty to learn from the masses their own situation while simultaneously tearing away the façade built by and through capitalist-imperialist relations. The experience of the masses is invaluable to us and our pedagogical practice, and through revolutionary education, is transformed into the basis of our praxis. Thus, our cadres must become teacher-learners in congruence with the masses in order for us to begin the journey towards achieving proletarian liberation.
On the Experiences of the Masses
The first step in answering this question is to understand that the totality of the processes of capitalism is hidden from the view of the masses. It is for this reason that we needed a Marx, an Engels, and a Lenin. We cannot expect the wretched situations in which the masses find themselves will inevitably lead to the overthrow of those situations; this is teleological determinism in its most dangerous form.
General forms of knowledge must be present before specific knowledge can be revealed. The biological sciences could not announce in certain terms the existence of the cell before studying the muscle as it seemed. Likewise, Marx could not have laid out the objective laws of capitalism without first studying capitalism as it seemed. Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England naturally preceded Marx’s Capital.
We must first study the particular to understand the general in order to return again to affect the particular. In this case, this means being among the masses and knowing their struggles in order to fully know the tasks of which the revolutionary socialist project must work at completing. To ignore the material conditions the masses find themselves in and instead simply shout slogans at them makes us nothing but preachers. Proselytization is the mode of those who do not have links to the masses. And how can one be a Marxist-Leninist without this vital link?
We must struggle alongside the masses for the improvement of their immediate well-being (fighting hunger, lack of clothing and shelter, police violence, low wages and dangerous work conditions, national oppression it its various forms) and in the process teach the masses that the reasons these wretched conditions of life exist in the first place are the current mode and relations of production, that the only way to totally solve these issues is the very destruction of capitalism itself. This is, in a broad sense, how we must inspire the masses to action; this is the process by which revolutionary education must occur.It is necessary for us to have a clear picture of what the masses are experiencing before we are able to genuinely begin organizing and theorizing.
It is backwards to go out to the masses only after we have undertaken the arduous process of forming our overarching theory and programs; in fact, how can we consider something created in isolation to be truly proletarian? Of course, we should be constantly striving towards the completion of this process even at this very moment. We should be aware of the direction we are headed and remain guided by the lessons given to us through Marxist-Leninist praxis but to be totally set in our ways at this point is foolishly dogmatic.
In short, we can begin the process of getting to where we must be from where we are through organizing activities which serve the people.
How Should We Teach the Masses?
Let’s return then to the original question of how we progress from the experiences of the masses to the knowledge necessary for the victory of the revolutionary class struggle.
We have said many times that we must struggle alongside the working class for their immediate economic demands, but why is it that we emphasize this point so often when our objective is education? Because, we answer, the opportunity to engage the masses in the dialogue of revolutionary education is so intertwined with the struggle for well-being.
Let us call upon the example of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to demonstrate the efficacy of such a tactic. It is the Black Panther Party, along with their inspiration of the Chinese Communist Party as explained in Mao’s Be Concerned with the Well-Being of the Masses, Pay Attention to Methods of Work, that proved that through programs that focused on the health and wellness of the masses we can pull the people into the class struggle and create a leadership of and for the masses.
History rests on the backs of the masses, and the masses alone can bring us forward. This is not to say that leaders do not play an important role in history but that leaders are only worth the masses that prop them up. To be concerned with the well-being of the masses is to be forward looking or at the very least, an essential part of looking forward.So, how does this all relate to the worker-community organizations and our tactical pedagogy in more exact terms? Precisely, potential of such organizations as ours depends upon our methods and relationships with the broad masses. Only by being intimately and genuinely concerned with the welfare of the masses can we open the opportunity to prove to the working classes the efficacy of Marxist-Leninist praxis. The worker-community organizations, by being mobilizations of the masses for the realization of their interests, are inherently bound up with the mass perspective, which is itself a necessary step towards overcoming capitalist-imperialist hegemony.
Through what some would consider these seemingly-minor battles for the well-being of the masses, we pave the wayttowards the eventual political organization of the working classes into a mass revolutionary apparatus. It is by recognizing and working at these tasks which have been too long left ignored that we begin to move forward.