This is a slightly edited version of a talk given during the “What Road to Socialism?” webinar held by Workers World Party on May 16.
When I first started writing for Workers World/Mundo Obrero newspaper, longtime comrade Leslie Feinberg said to me that older comrades always told hir, “Remember, no Party action is over until it’s written up for the paper!” That’s because the newspaper is an integral gear in Workers World Party’s Marxist-Leninist democratically centralized process.
That perspective comes from V.I. Lenin’s 1901-1902 book, “What Is to Be Done?” In one section, “Plan for an All-Russia Newspaper,” Lenin sharply argued that a national revolutionary newspaper was needed to effectively accomplish communist organizing in the vast territory of imperial Russia, including its conquered nations.
Lenin argued against social democratic proposals that there should be only local individual newspapers. These democratic socialists predicted that a party structure — and ultimately revolution — would somehow coalesce (!) out of these small, separate efforts.
Instead, Lenin advanced a structure for a national revolutionary communist newspaper. First, comrades report on the facts of local conditions from far-flung and disparate locations to the national newspaper. Next, national editorial and political comrades analyze that information from a Marxist perspective to glean insights into the overall current state of the working class under imperialist capitalism.
Finally, through the reports chosen and the analyses developed for the national newspaper, the theoretical impact of local reporting circulates back to organizers and readers. They then undertake the next round in revolutionary action — and reporting.
Over a hundred years ago, Lenin described Workers World newspaper: “A [communist, revolutionary] newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer. … [It] may be compared to the scaffolding erected around a building under construction; it marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between the builders, permitting them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their organized labour.”
When Workers World Party was established in 1959, the founders followed Lenin’s lead in immediately establishing Workers World as a national newspaper, with the first issue coming out March 1959. Now — 61 years later — the paper continues to publish on a daily basis on the web and in a downloadable weekly PDF print edition.
The process Lenin outlined is still followed by Workers World/Mundo Obrero. Every week an appeal for news and suggested articles is sent out to the entire membership and branches, along with an invitation for any comrade or candidate to participate in the weekly national editorial meetings, held by phone and on the web.
In these meetings the editorial staff discusses news and topics of the week from a revolutionary Marxist perspective, and a new issue of the paper is put in motion. These analyses and reports then return to the local level through the newspaper for review, study and growth in action.
For more on “WW Newspaper and Communist Organizing,” see our online class at workers.org. And final news flash! There is a new, dynamic Prisoner Page in WW called “Tear Down the Walls!” that is bringing forward the struggles of incarcerated people as an integral part of the global working class.
You can read those stories and more in Workers World/Mundo Obero every day at workers.org — where as Marxist-Leninists, we “write it up for the paper!”
Pratt, born and raised in Alabama, is an anti-racist, white, Southern lesbian and one of the managing editors of Workers World/Mundo Obero newspaper.