The Mass Line and Student Struggle

By Connor Willis

A united front is forming at UNCW. If executed correctly, this could be one of the most important political developments in Wilmington. There is massive revolutionary potential on campus. However, revolution is not spontaneous. Revolutionary potential must be cultivated into revolutionary action. Spontaneous acts of rebellion are key in revolutionary struggle, but revolution is a long term process of change. Below I explain a tactic that, if used in conjunction with other revolutionary tactics such as direct action and dual power, will cultivate a revolutionary movement on our campus.

The revolutionary movement forming on our campus is a united front of existing student organizations. These groups consist of people most conscious of what is wrong with society. Due to the way late-capitalism destroys one’s sense of community and has crushed all ideological dissent, most people do not have a cohesive understanding of the world. This creates a level of separation between these activists and the mass of the people. Most people see injustice, but don’t fully understand it. The most conscious have to lead the working class toward revolution, but to be effective they cannot trail or go beyond the political consciousness of the majority. The most conscious cannot blindly guide what it deeply doesn’t understand. They have to immerse themselves in the mass of the working class. The way this has been done by revolutionary groups, including the Black Panther Party, is the mass line.

The mass line is a tactic that opens a line of communication between a revolutionary group and the masses. This is done by going out and talking to as many people as possible. The revolutionary group asks the people about their thoughts about personal problems, widespread problems, and solutions they think would fix them. Using this data, the revolutionary group can learn in detail about the specific problems affecting people and act to solve them. Food insecurity, for example, can be directly addressed. A revolutionary group can coordinate food distribution. Mass homelessness is not a problem a revolutionary group can fix easily. For systemic problems such as these, a revolutionary group must agitate for revolutionary solutions. The group then goes back to the people and asks the same questions again, but now asks what they think of the updated program. This cycle goes on for as long as it is needed. As times change, the revolutionary group will be able to adapt to the needs of the people and changing conditions. The revolutionary group has to be immersed in the troubles of the masses to organize it. The mass line is the tactic that brings together all other forms of revolutionary tactics into a cohesive revolutionary strategy.

The status of school this fall is in limbo. Tens of thousands of innocent people are at risk of losing their jobs and losing their lives. A revolutionary movement has to account for this and fight for what people need. Everything from food banks to tenant organizing has to be on the table for a revolutionary movement in these dark times. A revolutionary student movement must attack the school administration, but also understand that the oppression seen on campus are symptoms of larger social problems. As the most advanced of the working class, a revolutionary group sees this. As the revolutionary student movement advances, it must expand into the greater community. The problems of the working class, no matter how trivial, must be addressed. The mass line is the tactic that allows a revolutionary party to fight for the immediate and long term needs of the people.

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