First Published: Unity and Struggle, Vol. V, No. 6, June 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In 1966, Amiri Baraka and a group of people who had been active in New York at the Black Arts Repertory Theater, and local people from Newark, New Jersey began to work together putting on “black theater” in Newark at a frame building on Stirling Street. The general direction of the theater was similar to that of the Black Arts, in that the works to be performed were all Black Nationalist, some revolutionary nationalist,, others reactionary nationalist.
During ’66, the rise of the Carmichael popularized cry of “Black Power” was picked up by many independent nationalists, as the most penetrating line since Malcolm’s death a year earlier. The fact that Malcolm’s line was the voice of the Black working class reasserting itself into leadership of the Black Liberation Movement is significant, because after his murder, the petty bourgeois leadership moved into that vacuum. And in some cases the Black National Bourgeois hegemony was partially reasserted, articulated by Dr. King, and later, comprador politicians. Even the Panther line was twisted by a petty bourgeois glorification of the Lumpen as revolutionaries (by a lumpen who had been glorified by the petty bourgeoisie even being equipped with Bakunin as “legitimized” reference to such backwardness).
Even with Malcolm, the Black Liberation Movement suffered from eclecticism, but Malcolm was a steadying focus, a revolutionary nationalist and anti-imperialist whose articulation that Black people were an oppressed nation with the right of self determination, self respect, self defense, exposed the shallowness of the Black bourgeoisie’s conciliatory line. It is important to understand that the main reason that the Black bourgeoisie had moved into leadership of the Black Liberation Movement again was because of the traitorous opportunism of the CPUSA, who had liquidated the AfroAmerican National Question saying that Black people had already achieved Self Determination and had opted for Integration under Imperialism. This was a long step by these bourgeois lackies to the complete degeneration of the CPUSA to revisionism which was completed by the 50’s.
The plunge into revisionism first of all disoriented all progressive workers struggles in the United States, and cast the Black Liberation Movement directly into the hands of the Black bourgeoisie. The CPUSA even began to push the comprador wing of the Black bourgeoisie, the NAACP,etc., as “leaders of the freedom movement.” The lack of a vanguard communist party to give leadership to all the workers struggles and the struggles of oppressed nationalities, to gather all those struggles together in their strategic relationship and make revolution, in itself was the main cause of the eclecticism of anti-imperialist student struggles, and the movement of the oppressed nationalities.
The Black Arts Movement from whence developed the Spirit House was eclecticism personified, combined with some aspects of bourgeois aesthetic, cultural nationalism (though not yet into so called “neo-traditionalism”), subjectivism, mysticism, idealism, individualism. Malcolm was the key figure for the Black Arts Movement and the Spirit House, but there were also the influences of the Nation of Islam (especially as reflected in Malcolm’s earlier speeches). There was also, not insubstantially so, rising influence of Sunni Islam, because Malcolm had embraced orthodox Islam in his last year, and also the Yoruba influence, which emanated out of New York from the various groups put together by Baba Oserjeman. It is significant that the dive into the most reactionary cultural nationalism came only after Malcolm’s death, and the concept of what was “Black” moved, in some groups to the extreme right, via the feudalistic elements contained in Yoruba and Islam, removed from the fire sermons of Malcolm’s Revolutionary Nationalism and anti-imperialism, and without the proletarian leadership of a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party.
The Motion of “Blackness” from its revolutionary connotation to the backwardness of cultural nationalism, is the key to later directions and misdirections of the Black Liberation Movement, and particularly movements like CFUN and CAP. The combination of many petty bourgeois elements in the leadership, especially of any “arts” movement, the fact that even Malcolm earlier condemned Whites generally, and that the Black Liberation Movement in opposing national oppression, White supremacy and chauvinism and racism, has long had a general reaction to this oppression which made relationships with any Whites strained. The weakness of most of the abolitionists, the chauvinism of early socialist movements in the U.S.A., the comprador bourgeoisie’s cry of bourgeois integration, as the road to liberation, pushed by the bourgeoisie and the degenerate CPUSA, all, by the early 50’s had set up a trend of reaction which pushed all the way over to narrow nationalism. But narrow nationalism is 1st and foremost a reaction, among the Black Liberation Movement, to national oppression and racism. And even the fact of the credibility of cultural nationalism, as bankrupt as it ultimately must be seen to be, is only possible because of the peculiar circumstance of national oppression and racism, and their attendant cultural aggression which had historically been one method of Black subjugation and what seemed the obvious goal (despised by the masses) of the compradors.
The Spirit House in producing plays in Newark, including an AfroAmerican festival of the arts (which included Carmichael, Oserjeman, Harold Cruse as speakers) and opening a small theater, also began to get involved with organizing the immediate neighborhood–with block association, a youth produced newspaper, propaganda and agitation around the education struggles.
Early 1967 Amiri Baraka and others went to San Francisco State – Baraka as visiting professor – helped set up the first Black Studies Program with the leading efforts of Jimmy Garrett. Under the heading The Black Communications Project, plays were performed up and down the West Coast, with the Black Arts Alliance (The Black Students Union of San Francisco State and Black Arts West, with Ed Bullins, Marvin X, and others.) Rehearsals were held at The Black House, which was also the residence of Marvin X and Eldridge Cleaver. The group did benefits for the Panthers in San Francisco (with Huey Newton, Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael and LeRoi Jones on one program–this was before Cleaver had rose up in the organization). Later a split developed between the artists who were heavily influenced by cultural nationalism, e.g., Islam and later Kawaida and the Cleaver faction. Cleaver at the time, just returned from interviewing Stokely Carmichael in Alabama, was making speeches for the SWP. This baffled those of us from the East, since the movement there had been distinctly narrow nationalist by that time, and it was partially in reaction to just such groups as the scum trots, and the revisionists of the CPUSA as well, that a narrow nationalism had gained hegemony over one part of the movement. The CPUSA’s classic line that ”the nationalism of Malcolm X was the same as the Nationalism of the Ku Klux Klan”, their calling Malcolm, a police agent seemed simply to justify the anti-White feelings, especially toward the political types. The bogus integration of the civil rights movement, the shallowness of the Black bourgeoisie’s leadership, the tradition of petty bourgeois separatism and Back to Afrika movements that were “more militant” than the Black bourgeoisie’s leadership, e.g., Garvey etc., which could be drawn from, all reinforced separatism. The petty bourgeois had seized leadership of the Black Liberation Movement in the 20’s after the depression contracted the Black bourgeoisie’s ability to lead the movement. Classically the Black bourgeoisie had been before that the leadership of the “freedom movement,” but after the failure of the Garvey movement, with its petty bourgeois idealism. separatism, bourgeois nationalism, and anti-communism, a distinct working class trend had arisen characterized by groups like the Afrikan Blood Brotherhood, which began as a Left opposition inside the Garvey movement, and which had representatives at the 3rd International (Harry Haywood, etc.), also magazines like the Crusader, the Messenger, and the entrance of thousands of Blacks into the CPUSA, once they had taken the correct position on the AfroAmerican National Question. It should be clear how tragic was the collapse into revisionism of the CPUSA, and how it led to the seizure of the leadership of the Black Liberation Movement by the Black bourgeoisie. After Malcolm’s death, the petty bourgeois trend rearose.
During the ejection of the Black artists influenced by Islam and cultural nationalism from the Black House, by Cleaver and the Panthers, Amiri Baraka was in Los Angeles where he was invited to attend what was called “The First AfroAmerican Wedding”, put on by Ron Karenga’s US Organization. Karenga had shown up one night in Newark some months earlier where he was helping to plan the ’67 Black Power Conference, which was to be held in July. It was the first exposure of the Newark Spirit House forces to Karenga, and the kind of cultural nationalism he advocated. Highly organized, armed with a “doctrine” of his teachings which were systematized for easy memorization and recitation, and a close-knit group of loyal followers, Karenga during this period was impressive to us. Talking about the importance of Culture for revolution, Karenga spoke lengthily about the need for Revolutionary AfroAmerican Art. And his doctrine was the triumph of eclecticism. It borrowed liberally from Malcolm, Elijah Muhammad and The Nation of Islam (Karenga had been in the Nation), as well as Garvey, Nkrumah, Nyerere, Toure, Fanon, Mao (because he was “colored”), and ironically Lenin (but unnamed and simply quoted without quotation marks) as well as Abba Eban (who was quoted and named and read from at length) Gracian, Sun Tzu, Gibran, and The Lion In Winter. Karenga had organized the eclecticism of the Black Liberation Movement into a “doctrine” of eclecticism.
It was the experience of watching the Panthers rise, the spring of ’67 was the time they went into the California Legislature with guns to draw attention to the idea that Black people must have the right of armed self defense: of being exposed and impressed by the bald-headed, buba wearing, gun bearing, swahili speaking, doctrine quoting, tight organization of Karenga’s US, that suggested to us the need to more tightly and more politically organize the Spirit House. The disorganized, undisciplined character of the Spirit House we now saw as backward. And almost as soon as we returned to Newark, the rebellion which had been building not only in Newark, but across the country, in the violent reaction to the non-accomplishment of the civil rights movement and its bourgeois domination, July ’67 a week of rebellion jumped off, which came to its end at the beginning of the Black Power Conference. A 1967 photo of a press conference calling for United Nations intervention in Newark, at which a petition was submitted containing names, which included, Huey Newton, LeRoi Jones, Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Imari Obadele, which put forward concretely Malcolm’s line that we should take our oppression before the United Nations. The people sitting at the table in the photograph are Rap Brown, Maulana Karenga, LeRoi Jones, McKissick (Jones had just gotten released from Prison, after he was beaten and arrested during the rebellion.) It is at about this point that the people in the Spirit House began to wear dashiki’s and Afrikan clothes. It is also the period at which the dramatic work of the Spirit House begins to be superseded by purely political work.
In summing up it seems key that philosophical idealism, subjectivism, metaphysics, narrow nationalism were the bottom of the basis of the ideological, political and overall organizational eclecticism of the Spirit House, as well as the whole Black Liberation Movement, and central to this was the absence of a genuine Marxist-Leninists Party. Even though a revolutionary concept of Black Power was put forward, there was no scientific or complete method or theory understood or accepted as the basis of struggle of the movement. There was no systematic study or real analysis, nor no real understanding of the essentially one sided nature of our perceptions of the movement, which is what made Karenga’s doctrine seem so profound. It was a “Neo-Traditionalists” Quaran, of systematized eclecticism.
In terms of gains during this period, first there was an attempt to put into concrete political use Malcolm X’s message, even to circulating and trying to go to the United Nations with the petition. The putting forth of a revolutionary aspect of the Black Power message, including the need for revolutionary violence. The spreading nationally of a revolutionary Black Arts Movement. And finally the move, after the 1967 rebellion, to emphasize politics and organization within the Spirit House.
Negatively, the subjectivism philosophical idealism and metaphysics of an earlier period was continued, and with the advent of a more conscious trend of cultural nationalism, deepened. And with the deepening of the cultural nationalism more negative aspects of the eclecticism began to dominate, some positive aspects to be more and more obscured.
The reasons for these negative tendencies dominating at the end of this period, the whole move into cultural nationalism must be seen as coming from first the general eclecticism and spontaneity of the Black Liberation Movement and the general worship of spontaneity that went with it.
And also, most important, after the murder of Malcolm X, a petty bourgeois tendency emerged in the vacuum which pushed separation and cultural nationalism on one side and eventually gun cultism and worship of the lumpen on the other. Two absolute distortions of the total political line of Malcolm, since no organization was left by Malcolm, nor was there a vanguard Marxist-Leninist Party to give working class leadership. Added to this, petty bourgeois elements within the Spirit House, because it emphasized art, though Black Art, because of their subjectivism were easily impressed by the political, organized structure of Karenga’s organization and the petty bourgeois idealism his “doctrine” represented.
The main character of this stage of the development of what was to become the Congress of Afrikan People was the coming together of the earliest elements of the Spirit House, a Black Arts group, with some aspects of a community organization, with other more or less predominantly political types to form what was called the Committee for Unified Newark. This was a name given to the group by Malauna Karenga of the US organization on one of his visits to Newark.
By the time of the Newark rebellion the political tendency of what was then the Spirit House was clearly in the ascendancy and began to dominate around that time. From late in ’67 and into ’68, there were not only people who were attracted to the Spirit Houses’ work in the Black Arts but also people who were drawn to its openly black nationalist political line. The Sunni Muslims began to come around pushing he line that since Malcolm had become in Orthodox Muslim, that that was true line of Black Liberation. They set up classes in the Spirit House, in Arabic and Islam, briefly Spirit House became a “Jamat” or place for the gathering and teaching of Orthodox Muslims. But there was an almost immediate conflict, Since the Sunnis were not even really nationalists and without Malcolm’s anti-imperialist consciousness, the Jersey Sunni’s pushed a great many “practical” programs that were basically comprador.
A group of community activists, organizers, neophyte politicians were also brought together during this period, for regular meetings to discuss Newark politics. The general theme emerging was that of “Black Power”, but in this context it began to be translated almost exclusively as “power” through the municipal government and other local agencies, which could be gained finally through electoral politics. This group became finally formalized into The United Brothers.
Another group also came together during this period with the brothers and sisters in the Spirit House, and later, in interrelationship with the brothers in The United Brothers, this was the Black Community Defense and Development, called B.C.D. The BCD was from its outset a much looser, smaller, weaker version of Karenga’s US organization. It was put together by Balozi Zayd Muhammad who was a small dealer in Afrikan arts and crafts in a small East Orange store and also a martial arts “Sensi” Mfundishi Maasi. The BCD grasped the most surface elements of the Kawaida doctrine, combining a small merchant consciousness with a martial arts fanaticism and individualism, that hooked easily into the surfaces of the Karenga-US image. Karate and the martial arts in general was thought by cultural nationalists to be a key element in the coming Black Revolution, and the baldheaded. dashiki or buba wearing, karate dangerous, Swahili speaking Black cultural nationalist was the deepest aspect of what BCD represented. The BCD had a sister organization, Sisters for Black Culture, along with the United Sisters, a group that never formalized but represented the wives of some of the United Brothers’. All these groups came together around the Spirit House, drawn together by the Newark leadership, and its focus on local Black power, and the influence of Karenga’s Kawaida.
At first these three groups represented three distinct but inter-related trends that the leadership of the Spirit House was involved with. Spirit House itself, which was Black Arts; United Brothers, Black Power translated as local electoral politics; Black Community Defense and Development, Kawaida Cultural Nationalism. What linked all three was bourgeois nationalism and idealism, what formally linked all three, was the formalized organization of bourgeois nationalism and idealism, ie, the Kawaida doctrine, and the general method of organizing represented by the US organization.
Actually while the three groups functioned together, they remained to a certain extent separate anyway. The United Brothers met on Sundays to discuss Newark politics. The more directly cultural nationalist BCD had a Sunday night “Soul Session” patterned after the US organization, which was a combination rally and church service at which time people spoke on various parts of the Kawaida doctrine, and the leadership spoke to inspire the organization members and community people. The Spirit House elements had rehearsals and performed there and at colleges and other places around the area and as late as 1968 continued to do benefits for the National Panther organization.
It was thought that the cultural nationalist doctrine of Kawaida was the revolutionary essence of the program that issued from the three groups, and generally it was thought by the leadership that the local politicians should be influenced by Kawaida, by “Real Nationalism”, and the surface electoral political organization should contain a cultural nationalist “Revolutionary” content.
In 68, Karenga came to Newark, as the three groups were working together to sponsor the first Black political convention in Newark, and later ran several candidates for City Councilmen in what was called (by Karenga) “The Peace & Power Campaign”. Since these were the slogans of the newly founded Committee for Unified Newark. ..Peace & Power. (This was supposed to make use of the Black Power Movement as well as the Peace Movement which were in motion, and which Karenga proposed that we abstractly relate to both.) It was during this period that the Committee for Unified Newark was named, which was to bring together all three groups into one general body, as well as provide a structure wherein other local organizations could come in. BCD would provide the cultural nationalism and security; United Brothers would provide the political thrust; and Spirit House, the Black Arts and “Spiritual Leadership”.
None of the candidates put forward by the United Brothers-Committee for Unified Newark won that year, but more Black people in Newark voted than ever before in an election. The slogan put forth by Karenga for the organization after the election was “To Stumble Is Not to Fall, But To Go Forward Faster”, and the leadership of the Spirit House and the United Brothers, were now very clear that 1970 we would try to elect a Black Mayor. What was unnoticed or not understood, was that as the general level of internalization of the cultural nationalist doctrine proceeded, many of the more revolutionary aspects of the openly eclectic period were played down, more openly reformist elements were emphasized. In fact, Karenga often criticized the Newark leadership for saying things (like emphasizing violence &c.) that would “scare the blood”. Also the rise in the cultural nationalist Kawaida doctrine was the rise in the extreme of male chauvinism now raised and legitimized as a “doctrine“. Part of this doctrine openly spoke to the concept that women should be “submissive”, to be beautiful, and restated many of the older Islamic concepts dressed up in Swahili and neo-traditional “Afrikan” garb. Even polygamy was pushed in the US organization, and this was from the inception a conflict between the US Kawaida practices and the Newark-Committee for Unified Newark practices. Even though the Yoruba Temple had spread the polygamy concept in the East, and in the US organization the term was used to legitimatize male chauvinism, the Committee for Unified Newark opposed this practice, and some of the most reactionary aspects of “the Doctrine” dealing with women were never taught in the East at the Committee for Unified Newark, because the leadership was opposed to them, and the women in the Committee for Unified Newark always raised objection to the most chauvinistic extremes of the Kawaida teaching.
It should be added that the Male Chauvinism that is basic under capitalism was taken to unbelievable lengths under Kawaida, and it had a serious and negative effect on the women, tending to exclude them from political work and setting up a repressive & negative pattern and style of work to the point of habituating this apolitical tendency so deeply in some of the women that it will only be completely defeated with fierce struggle. It deepened and legitimatized male chauvinism via feudalist “neo-traditionalism” to such an extent that some male cadres still suffer from it, and have only just recently begun to face how broadly they are affected by the leavings of these backward practices and ideas.
Since the Kawaida, cultural nationalist teaching and faction was most organized (even as organized eclecticism) it gradually influenced all three groups to some degree. Though a good number of the members of the United Brothers were cold blooded opportunists who merely used the organized dynamic of the organization to gain political office. But bourgeois nationalism was still a linking factor between these opportunists and the more sincere and serious elements of all the groups now functioning as Committee for Unified Newark. As the Spirit House leadership became more and more political, drawing its main formal political tactics and strategy from the Kawaida Doctrine, the application and attempted application of this political methodology brought it more and more in conflict with the BCD. The reason: that BCD leadership actually only held to the most general surface utilization of the Kawaida doctrine, the look, a few Swahili phrases, odd bits of ritual, a small “Afrikan Store”, and the Karate. For the BCD leadership, the Soul Session and Karate practice were the real nationalism, they had small regard for the politics. The final conflict involved a clash between Baraka, who was the “Spiritual Leader” of the Committee for Unified Newark and Maasi, its presumed “military leader”, over whether Doctrine classes had precedence over Karate training or not. That is the Karate-merchant mentality actually saw small need for any formal political training, and with a few more such incidents, the BCD withdrew from the Committee for Unified Newark.
With the withdrawal of BCD from the Committee for Unified Newark, the organization now became for the first time a unitary organization, with one general leadership, though composed still of elements of all three organizations. But now the Spirit House and United Brothers leadership was the sole leadership of the Committee for Unified Newark, and put together a “Kawaida” which revised much of Karenga’s doctrine as it developed to fit in with the ideas of the East coast practitioners. Basically it combined cultural nationalism with electoral politics.
During this period the gains can be summed up as “formation of a unitary, political organization”, and a “split with the extreme right wing (comprador) petty bourgeois cultural nationalists”. (During the fifth stage, the BCD had almost completely deteriorated, and after the re-election of Mayor Hart of East Orange, the leadership of the organization joined the cabinet of Hart, Balozi Zayd Muhammad, becoming head of the Drug and Alcohol program for the City of East Orange, the BCD Martial Arts program becomes a Model Cities program in East Orange).
Clearly the full acceptance of Kawaida, the formal eclecticism, the bourgeois and cultural nationalism. With its male chauvinism as a formal legitimatized aspect of nationalism. The neo-traditionalist form of Kawaida even brought back Afrikan feudal practices as “revolutionary” and encouraged ritualism and metaphysics. It took eclecticism, Karengaized it, and taught a doctrine of idealism and petty-bourgeois revolutionism. Malcolm’s line on the Black Nation with its emphasis on land, Kawaida transmuted into “Black people were a cultural nation” and had to build the political nation, thereby uniting with the social democratic concept of “cultural autonomy”, under capitalism, rather than revolutionary self-determination under socialism.
Lenin says of “cultural autonomy” and of nationalism in general, “Consolidating nationalism within a certain ’justly’ delimited sphere, ’constitutionalizing’ nationalism, and securing the separation of all nations from one another by means of a special state institution–such is the ideological foundation and content of cultural-national autonomy. This ideal is thoroughly bourgeois and thoroughly false.
“The gist of this programme (Cultural-National Autonomy) is that every citizen registers as belonging to a particular nation, and every nation constitutes a legal entity with the right to impose compulsory taxation on its members with national parliaments and national. . .ministers. Not abolishing capitalism and its basis”, which is the basis for national oppression, but a purely petty bourgeois idea, “which converts bourgeois nationalism into an absolute category, exalts it as the acme of perfection...”. (In Critical Remarks on the National Question, Vol. 20, Collected Works, p. 35-36) ”Marxism cannot be reconciled with nationalism, be it even of the ’most just’, ’purest’, most refined and civilized brand. In place of all forms of nationalism Marxism advances internationalism, the amalgamation of all nations in the higher unity, a unity that is growing before our eyes. . .the principle of nationality is historically inevitable in bourgeois society and, taking this society into due account, the Marxist fully recognized the historical legitimacy of national movements. But to prevent this recognition from becoming an apologia of nationalism, it must be strictly limited to what is progressive in such movements, in order that this recognition may not lead to bourgeois ideology obscuring proletarian consciousness.
“The awakening of the masses from feudal lethargy, and their struggle against all national oppression, for the sovereignty of the people, of the nation, are progressive. Hence, it is the Marxist’s bounden duty to stand for the most resolute and consistent democratism on all aspects of the national question. This task is largely a negative one. But this is the limit the proletariat can go in supporting nationalism for beyond that begins the ’positive’ activity of the bourgeoisie striving to fortify nationalism.”
The main error of this period was the full acceptance of Kawaida and cultural nationalism. With this also the romanticization of Afrika, in keeping with the never-never land view of Afrika as “timeless perfection”, again deviating from Malcolm’s anti-imperialist understanding of the Third World versus Imperialism as one of the most important struggles in the world today. The deeper involvement with cultural nationalism also widens the split that grew with the Panthers, and with the open denunciations of Marxism-Leninism as a “white boys ideology”.
The main reasons for the damaging error of moving deep into cultural nationalism must be attributed to the lack of a vanguard revolutionary party; the death of Malcolm X and the vacuum created by that loss out of which petty bourgeois trends could rise to dominate he movement. But concerning the Congress of Afrikan People (then the Committee for Unified Newark-Spirit-House), these are essentially conditions or the errors, the causes are the petty bourgeois base and idealistic and metaphysical method of the leadership of the Spirit House-Committee for Unified Newark. In general, there was a widespread metaphysical method employed when uniting in the Black Liberation movement around Blackness”, which at its positive could only mean the struggle of Black people against our national oppression. For this to be completely positive it would have had to be completely conscious, i.e., as a struggle against imperialism in its complete aspect. And while, as Stalin says, in Foundations of Leninism, “The revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary or a republican programme of the movement, the existence of a democratic basis of the movement. The struggle that the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for the independence of Afghanistan is objectively a revolutionary struggle despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his associates, for it weakens, disintegrates – and undermines imperialism.” (p. 149, The Essential Stalin). Even so, though there was a revolutionary kernel to what Spirit House-Committee for Unified Newark was doing, as the organization moved deeper into Kawaida that kernel was obscured. Since we were not Marxist-Leninists there was no class analysis of forces that we united with to form the Committee for Unified Newark, or for that matter no class analysis of Kawaida itself. The various aspects of the doctrine, though some of them borrowed in a eclectic manner and featured the truths found in Malcolm, Toure, Nyerere, even Mao, etc., were bound together with memorizable formulae that tended to close analysis rather than serve as a catalyst for it. (Though later it was just this analysis of the elements of Kawaida that moved us past it!) The Nguzo Saba (Umoja-Unity, Kujicha-gulia-Self-Determination, Ujima-Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa-Cooperative Economics, Nia-Purpose, Kuumba-Creativity, Imani-Faith) which was transformed by other cultural nationalists into “The 7 Principles of Blackness”; the 7 Criteria of a Culture; the Three Basis for Blackness; Three Kinds of Revolution, etc., or the memorizing of quotes from the Quotable Karenga, which were recited by rote, every weekend Soul Session, complete with the popping of the fist to the chest, or the crossing of the arms across the breast (in submission!) for the women, were ritualistic, militaristic, methods of internalizing eclecticism, bourgeois nationalism, idealism and metaphysics.
Karenga’s talk about culture linked him to the Black Arts Movement, and the arts element of the Committee for Unified Newark also related to that, and Karenga had taken some of the earlier Black Arts work, and incorporated it into his doctrine. In the move to build a “Black Power Organization” finally there was no all sided understanding of what that would be, and no consistent analysis to base it on. All this plus the connection to reformist politics and its worship of pragmatism, which we also took up, gives a basis for our continuing errors.
The split with the BCD forged the CFUN into a unitary organization, it cut away an element of what was most superficial and most reactionary about cultural nationalism, at the same time going deeper, not only into kawaida, but cultural nationalist practices elaborated by CFUN itself. And all the time, we moved deeper into a reformist practice, emphasizing electoral politics, pragmatism, and finally, at its most developed, an electoral political form, and a cultural nationalist-bourgeois nationalist content. Even though the participation in elections was not, in itself, incorrect, the Newark campaigns were a mass movement inspired by the struggle for democratic rights and self determination (“Black Power”), but to see these as being realized exclusively through electoral politics was simple reformism. And because it was electoral politics not guided by a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party, it attracted the most extreme opportunists whose bourgeois nationalism was simply a method of getting a better job serving imperialism, the elections a sort of audition for more advanced compradorhood.
The’68 Black Political Convention was effective at mobilizing “Black Newark” toward the thrust needed for the 1970 municipal elections. In 1969, another much larger and much more effective “Black and Puerto Rican Convention” was put together by a broad coalition of forces led by Committee for Unified Newark. This convention mobilized internal forces, the core of which was The United Brothers, and its “steering committee” which included all the soon to be successful Black councilmanic and mayoral candidates, as well as mobilizing much of “Black and Puerto Rican Newark” for the 1970 elections.
By the end of ’68, the tensions that had been visible with the ejection of the cultural nationalist influenced artists from the Black House in San Francisco by Eldridge Cleaver in 67, had reached even greater proportions, focused between the Black Panther Party, (now, by late 68, headed up by Cleaver) and the “US” organization. In December 68, after a rising number of incidents, fights, much publicized antagonism (now openly admitted as the work of the FBI) the infamous shootout took place at UCLA which left Bunchy Carter and John Huggins dead, allegedly at the hands of several members of the” US organization. At the very moment this signal tragedy went on Karenga was speaking at a benefit for CFUN in Harlem, and was actually told about it off stage at the Rockland Palace, just before he went on to speak. Obviously, FBI inspired, not only did this shootout further split up the Black Liberation Movement, in some cases in openly hostile camps, but it took a toll on both the Panther and US organizations allowing the police agents to undermine, kill, and corrupt each group as they grew intent on attacking each other. On the West Coast especially, the US-Panther conflict left several more dead and imprisoned. The FBI shot in each organization’s windows, bombed it, shot at its members, and blamed it on the other, and though some of the separation of these organizations was rooted in the divergent character of the organizations, so called “Revolutionary Nationalism” vs. Cultural Nationalism, it is clear now that the state pushed this possibly normal split to the point of bloodshed. The Panthers talked about self defense, anti-imperialism and even the red book of Chairman Mao’s quotes and phrasemongered Marxism, and there was much that was legitimate and revolutionary about them, but petty bourgeois idealism, adventurism, gun cultism, bakuninist anarchist-terrorist mentality (complete with seeing the lumpen as the makers of revolution and petty bourgeois bohemianism) as most clearly put forward by Eldridge Cleaver and their leadership, (plus the FBI harassment) turned the Panthers into an isolated, incorrect, anarcho-terrorist sect of which finally after being decimated, emerged to show the social democratic reformist character underneath the flames and rhetoric. But the Panthers at one point represented the high point ideologically in the movement, but without a vanguard communist party in the lead of the movement and the whole working class, they were misdirected, backed against the wall, and vamped on.
After the deaths of Carter and Huggins, a war broke out, especially in the Los Angeles-San Diego area between the Panthers and the US organization. And for the next year (1969), movement people in the Los Angeles area lived under a veritable state of seige. It was during this time that the US organization in general, and Maulana Karenga, developed what they called “a foxhole mentality”. They became, as an organization, sealed off more or less from the rest of the Black Liberation Movement, isolated and wary of outside contacts. This plus the barrage of attacks mounted by the “left” oriented press that the Carter-Huggins deaths were “an assassination by the Karengatangs” etc.. . .separated the US organization from the mainstream of the movement.
The CFUN during this period, though maintaining contact with the US organization developed more and more independent programs, and though the essential content was very much cultural nationalist and generally related to Kawaida, there were further elaborations and developments. The 1969-70 Gibson-City Council election was carried forth finally in general opposition to Karenga, because by that time he was so isolated he didn’t appreciate the dynamic mass movement that Black participation in electoral politics had become. The US organization went on with mostly purely internal cultural nationalist programs, most of which by now had a great deal of strictly “military & security” utilizations.
By the time of the Gibson election in 1970 (July) and especially the 1st Congress of Afrikan People meeting in Atlanta, Labor Day, 1970, there was a growing antagonistic relationship between the CFUN and US organization. The Atlanta meeting came, as the result of people on the Continuations Committee of the Black Power Conference moving to create a stable organization as an alternative to the annual Black Power Conferences, which were just that, conferences. Amiri Baraka from CFUN was on the Continuations Committee, and by this time Karenga was unable to attend the meetings, and his representatives from the West Coast stopped coming as well.
When the decision was made to hold the Conference, and the reasons were made clear, that the intention was to set up a National Black Organization, that would have a Pan Afrikanist thrust, as well as the nationalism, and when it was apparent that the US organization would have no direct control over the newly forming organization, Karenga ordered CFUN and Amiri Baraka not to go on with the plans, and to oppose the national meeting. This was not done, instead the group which by then included, Heyward Henry, who was elected Chairman, Richard Traylor (both in the Black Unitarian Caucus), Roosevelt Brown (MP, Bermuda), Sonny Carson (then of a splitaway Brooklyn CORE) as the 1st officers or chief members of a Coordinating Committee which included Imamu Baraka, John Cashin, Carlton Goodlett, Lou Gothard, Leonard Harrison, Mike Holloman, Jesse Jackson, Hugh Lane, Chester Lewis, John Lewis, Queen Mother Moore, Ken Msemaji, Zayd Muhammad, Gerald Robinson, Chuck Stone, Imamu Sukumu, James Varner, Preston Wilcox. Most of these, of course, did not function, and this group, for the most part was put together to help pull together the first conference. Julian Bond and Father Bob Hunter were the Chairmen of the “Atlanta Host Committee” to pull the conference together. The Conference itself was actually another Black Power Conference, only this time more structured, with a specific short term goal, that is the construction of an organization. The speakers at the conference alone show the wide, “popular”, essentially bourgeois Nationalist-Kawaida-PanAfrikanist trend it represented. Hayward Henry, 1st Chairman of the Congress of Afrikan People, Ralph Abernathy, SCLC, John Cashin, Freedom Democratic Party of Alabama; Kenneth Gibson, newly elected mayor of Newark; Jesse Jackson, (then Operation Breadbasket); Whitney Young, Urban League; Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam; Howard Fuller (Owusu Sadaukai) who spoke for Stokeley Carmichael and also for Malcolm X Liberation University; Richard Hatcher, mayor of Gary, Indiana; Ambassador Adoulaye Toure of Guinea; Evelyn Kawanza, Zimbabwe Action Group; Raymond Mbala, GRAE (Later FNLA); Roosevelt Douglas, Toronto; Julian Bond, Georgia State Senator; Imamu Amiri Baraka, CFUN-CAP. It is a cross section of the nationalist-Pan-Afrikanist movement in the United States at the time, with its African communications also visible. The class character of this gathering of leaders is mainly petty bourgeoisie, some national bourgeoisie, with aspects of the compradors evident. Though the gathering itself drew many working class people. It is significant that this same weekend the Black Panthers had their Constitutional Convention in Washington, D.C. which drew 6,000 people, including White radical organizations which raised the need for socialism in the United States; the Congress of Afrikan People Conference drew about 3,500. In two speeches that bear some relevance to where people are at now, Imamu Baraka’s speech puts down Marx and Lenin, talking about Black people involved with “White mythology” saying that like Thomas Jefferson or George Washington or Beethoven and the Rolling Stones, we were being asked to get “involved with another group of White boys”. It also talked about a “World Afrikan Party” that could deal in four areas of political power (a Kawaida Concept), Public Office; Community Organization; Alliance & Coalition; Disruption. It also talks about the nation being wherever we are, saying, ”The land belongs to the people who are standing on it. And if there is enough of you standing on it you ought to claim it. The Afrikan Nation is wherever there are enough Afrikans to take it. By any means. . .any way you can conceive to do it.. .It’s about land.. .Nationalism is about land and Nation. A way of life trying to free ourselves.” And later in true eclectic fashion putting out in a workshop that “The South might be the great strategic battleground of our struggle,. . .but even to migrate there. . .we must first win the mind, separate the mind. Thinking Black propaganda must win Black people away. from their “White mindedness” which we still took as the main obstruction to revolution. In a subjective imposition of one problem of petty bourgeois Black intellectuals on the whole of Black people (Essentially the problem of combating bourgeois ideology at its most intense). Again failure to produce a whole, all sided analysis, based on scientific procedures, Petty bourgeois idealism and subjectivism, and a metaphysical method.
Howard Fuller (Owusu Sadaukai) after reading Carmichiel’s PanAfrikanist greeting, went on to an essentially bourgeois nationalist analysis of Whites vs Blacks, finally saying that since White folks controlled “the mechanism of force and violence” that they could, if pressed, bring in the National Guard, Regular Army, NATO, SEATO, “and if you beat SEATO they’ll bring it Russia. Dig that, because the Russians are White”. And finally laying out a PanAfrikanist line saving “we are Afrikan people. . .linked by common heritage and our common oppression.. .we must govern ourselves.. .we must have a nation.. .we must develop an economic system which recognizes the underlying communalisic nature of Afrikan society.. .if we talk about nation time and nation building then the first thing that we must understand is that we must have land and that land cannot be an abstraction, but ratter as a harsh physical reality that must be seized, held and developed. . .Brothers and Sisters, our land base must be that which belongs to us and that is Afrika...” Using Nkrumah, who also suffered from eclecticism and petty bourgeois idealism, as reference, and Carmichael, his disciple Owusu summed up the general line of the so-called “orthodox PanAfrikanists”, e.g., SOBU-YOBU, Malcolm X Liberation University, whose main struggle with CAP at the time (and for some time to come) was that they said the only strategy for Black Liberation was “to render ourselves ungovernable” in the United States, and migration to Afrika, which reminds one in some aspects of Garveyism (i.e., idealism, cultural nationalism and Black Zionism) and the line of the impoverished petty bourgeoisie in the 20’s.
(This bears special relevance against the lines of many subjective and mechanical “analyses” of the Black Liberation Movement which holds in undialectical fashion that CAP for instance was wholly reactionary because it was cultural nationalist while organizations like YOBU-SOBU, MXLU, and The Panthers were wholly revolutionary. This is rendered even more absurd by facts like, 1) where are the Panthers now? 2) CAP’s struggle to become a Marxist-Leninist Organization, 3) The fact that there are members in leadership of the so-called “Revolutionary Wing” (who have made some of this undialectical, mechanical and sectarian analysis) of the anti-revisionist communist movement who were members of US (until its very last days), CAP, as well as YOBU-SOBU, MXLU.)
Karenga sent people to the conference to intimidate its callers, but it did not work, and merely added to the now total estrangement between the CFUN forces and US. (There were also now in Newark many members of US who had left LA as the organization deteriorated.) At the end of the conference, the CFUN, back in Newark, at a full organizational meeting, announced a formal disconnection of any alliance with the US organization. . .which had always been informal in the first place.
The split with Karenga was basically the same as the split with the BCD earlier! (Though the BCD joined CAP as a member organization, and later on the same struggle was to occur at a higher level) – the main difference was that this split was at a higher level, had deeper, more important ramifications. It meant that CAP from its formal inception was free of the direct Karenga influence, although the Kawaida ideology was maintained for several years, but now shaped to the liking of the CFUN-CAP. It also meant that CAP was free to pursue the setting up of a national organization. The main resolution was to come out of the Political Liberation Workshop was a resolution that called for the calling together of the Gary Black Political Convention. It read, “.. .that the Congress of Afrikan Peoples form an ’Afrikan Liberation Front’ which would be a body to consolidate CAP with various national liberation fronts throughout Afrika, the Caribbean, South and Central America as well as the U.S.A. In the case of the U.S.A. specifically the Congress should establish a Black National Liberation Front, and set up a body to consolidate the Congress of Afrikan Peoples with all the various Black Revolutionary Movements in the U.S.A. including the League of Revolutionary Workers (formed the year before CAP), the Black Panther Party and The Republic of New Afrika.”
The gains of this period can be summed up basically from the forming of CFUN as a unitary organization. The move to national organization (CAP Conference) and beginning to learn about national organizing by the CFUN-CAP people and other groups in CAP, both of which would not be possible without the final Karenga split which must be viewed as the chief gain of this stage, t was also the introduction to many of ideas about mass organizing in cities, and the adoption of the broader PanAfrikanist thrust, in contrast to Kawaida as Karenga had put forth which was more narrowly nationalist.
The mistakes of this period are basically the deepening involvement with reformist and petty bourgeois politicians and opportunists. Some of whom were in the leadership of the national organization CAP.
There was also, in beginning to emphasize Pan Afrikanism, which was positive in the sense that it was broader than Kawaida, there was nevertheless a continuing involvement, though more independent, in cultural nationalism, and because of this a romanticization of Afrika with attendant social practices, many of which were now elaborated by CFUN-CAP. There was also because of the cultural nationalism, and particularly the involvement with Karenga’s Kawaida and the US organization, even more vigorous denunciations of Marxism-Leninism. Though we now made attempts to reach out for more exchange with the Panthers trying to overcome the hostility. (It is interesting that during the period of intense involvement with Kawaida Nationalism (1968-72) the CAP or CFUN-CAP put out no copies of its newspaper!)
The reasons for these mistakes are essentially similar to those that have described the other mistakes in the first two stages. But for this stage, the deepening involvement in Cultural Nationalism, was also a deeper involvement with petty bourgeois reformism basically because of empiricism and also pragmatism. Empiricism because we moved based only on our own experience, though the addition of a more openly PanAfrikanist thrust showed a tendency to break out of that. Pragmatism, especially in relationship to the mass work we were doing around electoral politics. There was some estimable success vis a vis the Gibson elections, etc., and so we felt that electoral politics was a key element in the mobilization of the masses. A tendency that stuck with us even when we had become Marxist-Leninists. As this electoral politics turned openly into a neo-colonial nightmare, it was one clear catalyst in our searching for new answers and moving eventually to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. But also the ideological base of Cultural Nationalism is petty bourgeois reformism. Lenin says “Opportunism and Chauvinism have the same political content – class collaboration.” (Lenin Vol. 22 Col. Wk., Opportunism & The Collapse of the 2nd International) Lenin goes on to say, “Social chauvinism and opportunism have the same class basis, namely, the alliance of a small section of privileged workers with their national bourgeoisie against the working class masses; the alliance between the lackies of the bourgeoisie against the class the latter is exploiting”. Thus the alliance between petty bourgeois politicians motivated almost exclusively by bourgeois ideology and Cultural Nationalism which is at base reformist and class collaborationist is obvious. The romanaticisation of Afrika. springs from the idealism involved with cultural nationalism and its metaphysical method which saw Afrika as an idea it wanted to impose rather than a concrete reality which must be analyzed as it was to be understood, so that a concrete connection between AfroAmericans and the continent, and especially to national liberation struggles could be worked out based on reality. Kawaida stressed “pregerm Afrika” not anti-imperialist present day Afrika or present day neo-colonial Afrika either. Many quotes in Kiwaida’s Quotable Karenga are from Leopold Senghor, the neo-colonial negritude spouting president of Senegal. Also the lack of a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party, and moreover, the existence of a revisionist social-chauvinist party calling itself the “communist” party USA whose pronouncements about the Black Liberation Movement, calling Malcolm X “a police agent” and saying that “the nationalism of Malcolm X and the Ku Klux Klan are the same”, gave narrow nationalism a stronger hold than it otherwise could have. Also the various radical reformists and “revolutionary” bohemians that the Panthers and Cleaver pushed as representing socialism gave narrow nationalism yet more legitimacy. Also the Panthers incorrect tactics based on incorrect political line and eclectic ideology set them up for the state more and more and to many this only proved the incorrectness of even the correct lines they were taking. The pacifism of many of the anti-war statements at the time plus the dominance of White youth in that movement kept the Black Liberation Movement generally apart from the war movement. But clearly the deepening involvement with cultural nationalism and electoral politics could only provide a dead end unless we went further, unless we began to analyze more completely the references we cited, the sources of Kawaida, etc., and that in the next period is exactly what we did.
The Atlanta CAP conference of 1970 provided the basic framework for the formation of the Congress of Afrikan People as a nationally organized body. This conference was seen as an attempt to unite the many diverse political tendencies in the Black Liberation Movement and in particular the various shades of nationalists and Pan-Africanists. It was largely representative of these various “shades” who made up the initial leadership of the Congress of Afrikan People.
The political thrust of CAP at this time was presented in the Political Liberation workshop of the conference by Amiri Baraka in calling for a black political party. “A local-international Nationalist-Pan-Africanist Party (World African Party). Capable of dealing not only with international alliances and international exchanges of information and resources, but also a party able to function on the smallest level, i.e., to win municipal elections.” (African Congress, P. 167)
This party was to be set up in all areas where large concentrations of Blacks were and the CAP conference was seen as the actual beginnings of the party itself.
This essentially reformist political thrust led to the establishment of relationships with opportunists of many stripes, most of them petty bourgeois black politicians. Our efforts to carry out the mandate of the 1970 CAP conference to build a black political party resulted in the coming together of the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana.
CAP shared the leadership of this convention and later the National Black Assembly as well with Mayor Richard Hatcher and Congressman Charles Diggs representative of the black petty bourgeois elite and the black national bourgeoisie in comprador positions as elected officials of an imperialist state. Also, both Ron Daniels and Hayward Henry, the current sell-out leaders of the National Black Assembly were at the time of the Gary convention, members of the leading body of CAP, the executive council.
As we travelled throughout the country mobilizing people for the Gary convention we also spread the doctrine of Kawaida though with our independent line on Cultural Nationalism and our own independent Kawaida, Cultural Nationalist practices. This independence in line and practice of Kawaida was fostered by our earlier split with Maulana Karenga and the US Organization–a split prompted by the practical degeneration of Maulana and US and the lack of movement on the part of the US organization.
We saw the spread of Kawaida as part of our overall strategy for the national liberation of black people. Our strategy, as outlined in our pamphlet entitled, “Strategy and Tactics of a Pan-African Nationalist Party,” was to create strong well organized cadres, who would be consolidated around the doctrine of Kawaida, to build the party and as our ultimate goal the building of an independent nation. Tactically this was to be achieved by:
a) Creating cadres.
b) Creating circles of operational unity in the local community.
c) creating circles of operational unity with other nationalist cadres outside the local.
d) Creating an African Nationalist party.
1. Creating circle of operational unity with other larger African elements, e.g., National organizations, national caucuses, agencies, etc.
e) National voter registration.
f) Holding national convention and run candidates in whatever elections in 1971 we are able.
g) Utilizing those mobilized by party as total thrust to control and transform the community. That is move on the initiation of the platform as the legal will of African communities. (Strategy & Tactics, pp. 16, 17, 18)
The basis of this strategy and tactics was our idealistic belief that the Black political party we sought to build would be the mechanism for “the total transfer of power from Europeans and the European controlled, to Africans.” It was our belief that “elections are the simplest way to transferring power to Africans in America.” (Strategy & Tactics, p. 10)
During the same period, we also deepened our involvement with various Afrikan leaders and provided material support for some Afrikan liberation movements. In 1971 a delegation from CAP visited Tanzania and in 1972 we played a major role in organizing the African Liberation Day demonstration in Washington, D.C. After the demonstration we continued to work with the African Liberation Day Continuations Committee and were influenced by the “progressive” elements in the ALDCC.
By the time of the June 1972 Miami Democratic National Convention, CAP had become somewhat disillusioned with corrupt Negro politicians, mainly based on our own negative experiences with opportunist like Kenneth Gibson of Newark and many others of that same ilk. In a pamphlet entitled “Toward the Creation of Political Institutions For All African Peoples,” Amiri Baraka criticized the petty bourgeois vacillators many of whom had talked Black Unity at the Gary convention but scrambled in Miami to make their own self serving deals.
At our 2nd international conference September 1972 in San Diego the conflict which had been brewing between the Black Humanists in CAP and the Kawaidists in the organization had reached the point where a split was inevitable. At the San Diego conference Amiri Baraka was elected Chairman of CAP and Hayward Henry and his fellow Black Humanists split from CAP (not formally but actually).
The emergence of Amiri Baraka into the leadership signalled the victory of Kawaida as practiced by CFUN-CAP and it signalled a greater emphasis on unifying the organization and overcoming the “looseness” that had so characterized us previously. The CAP line put out at San Diego was Nationalism, Pan-Africanism & Ujamaa (African Scientific Socialism).
In summing up the gains and mistakes of this period of our development, we see several things which we consider to be generally positive. Namely, the split with Maulana Karenga & US organization and the degeneracy of both, our attention to and support of Afrikan liberation struggles plus our involvement in ALD-ALDCC, the election of Amiri Baraka to leadership and the motion toward a unified national political organization, the split with the Black Humanist Fellows and the removal of Hayward Henry from CAP leadership, our growing disillusionment with petty bourgeois opportunist politicians.
Our errors were first and foremost a deeper involvement with electoral, reformist politics, e.g., Gary NBPC, NBA and local elections, the development and spread of Kawaida and independent Kawaida oriented social practices, our romanticization of Pan-Afrikanism, e.g., World African Party, putting forth eclectic and petty bourgeois definitions of socialism, e.g., Afrikan Scientific Socialism, Ujamaa, etc., in opposition to Marxist-Leninist analysis.
It was subjective idealism which gave rise to most of our errors. For example, the belief that Afrikan culture reclaimed and projected by black people would provide the consciousness for us to liberate ourselves was certainly not based on an objective analysis of material reality. Or the belief that our involvement in bourgeois electoral politics would lead to the national liberation of Black people and that this process could go on whereever Africans existed and that one day we would be able to link up into a World African Party and thus liberate Africans world wide. This subjective thinking led us deeper and deeper into reformism, understandably. Because as Comrade Mao Tse Tung says “subjective guidance of work inevitably result either in opportunism or putschism.” (Selected Military Writings, p. 59)
Because we had had negative experiences with organizations purporting to be socialist (e.g., SWP, CPUSA) both of whom played down the struggle of blacks against national oppression as a minor detail, we rejected the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. Thus on the basis of our experience only, we committed the error of empiricism. As the Chinese comrades say, “All things in the world are interconnected and at the same time different from one another. In practice, we should not only pay attention to the individual character of everything, that is, the particular contradiction it contains which distinguishes it from other things, so as to take appropriate measures to solve the contradictions accordingly. That is what we mean by using the right key to open the lock. Likewise, we cannot use one prescription to cure all diseases. As to experiences gained from one thing, some may be applicable to other things, others may be partly applicable to and still others may be completely inapplicable. To neglect the particularity of contradictions and mechanically apply old experience is empiricism.” (Study Philosophy, p. 19)
The addition of Dadisi Muata and Sala Udin to EXCO as new forces to the Kawaida-Pan Afrikanist trend facilitated the consolidation of the Kawaida-Pan Afrikanist trend as the dominant trend over the Black Humanist Fellows-Christian Nationalist trend and deepened the split in CAP. By the end of 1973, the Black Humanist Fellows (Hayward Henry, Mjenzi Kazana, Lou Gothard), non Kawaida elements (Poppy Sharp, Bill Land, Ron Daniels, Frank Satterwhite) and some extreme right wing Kawaida elements (Balozi Zayd Muhammad &c.) had left CAP. The break with H. Henry and the Black Humanist Fellows led to total domination and consolidation of the Kawaida-Pan Afrikanist trend. The conditions were set for the split between the right and left wing elements with the Kawaida-Pan Afrikanist trend in CAP. The two line struggle developed around: Looseknit Organization and Ideology versus Unitary Organization and Ideology; “Orthodox” Kawaida versus Pan Afrikanism and “Revolutionary Kawaida;” Social Practices, e.g., polygamy, chauvinism, feudalism, etc., and ALSC. The right wing elements, Jitu and Haki wanted to emphasize the cultist, bohemian and metaphysical aspects of cultural nationalism. Jitu to the point of attempting to reraise straight up Karenga-Kawaida as even opposed to electoral politics and mass movement work base. Haki’s practice of cultural nationalism included a fanatical concern with diet – drinking of distilled water and eating raw vegetables. Jitu and Haki wanted to dress up Afrikan in dashikis and robes like this was “pregerm Afrika” and practicing feudalism in relationship to women. Feudalism that says that the woman has a place just behind or under the man. Finally the struggle of them was to build petty bourgeois black institutions. (The line of small producers and shop keepers for their smaller share of the black market.)
The left wing, led by the Chairman of CAP and Newark Cadre, Amiri Baraka rejected many of the reactionary aspects of Kawaida such a polygamy, feudalism, cultism, chauvinism (male and racial) and emphasized what it could identify to be the “cutting edges” of Revolutionary Kawaida – Nationalism, Pan Afrikanism and Socialism (Ujamaa). A standardized collection of 10 Phases of Kawaida Doctrine was printed by the Chairman of CAP so that it could be collectively studied and interpreted in CAP, its revolutionary aspects emphasized and the reactionary, cultist and metaphysical aspects criticized and eliminated. The theoretical source of Revolutionary Kawaida was identified to be Malcolm X, Nkrumah, Toure, Nyerere, Cabral and Mao Tse Tung. The left wing’s line on organization was that CAP should be developed as a unitary, ideologically disciplined organization. This was the basis for the push for consolidation of the small competing individual operations of the East-Brooklyn Cadre, IPE-Chicago Cadre and CFUN-Newark Cadre into “one newspaper, one publishing company and one powerful commercial development program.” The ideological papers, “The Meaning and Development of Revolutionary Kawaida” and “Creating A Unified Consciousness. . .” was written by the Chairman of CAP during this period the two line struggle between the right wing and left wing elements of Kawaida.
The two line struggle was influenced and intensified by CAP attention to the Afrikan Liberation Struggles being waged and subsequent work and involvement in ALSC (Afrikan Liberation Support Committee) whose stand was growing increasingly anti- imperialist. This was alarming the CAP right wing nationalists, Jitu and Haki and brought on the struggle “as to CAP leaving or staying in it struggling.” Jitu and Haki felt that ALSC was moving too far to the left certainly past their romantic version of “pre germ Afrika.”
At Frogmore CAP had agreed to a compromise on the SOP (Statement of Principles), which was that a paragraph on cultural aggression would be included in the SOP and agreement that the “Marxist language” would be maintained. (CAP was taking the line toward what we labeled “Marxist language” based on narrow nationalism which is unscientific, and metaphysical in its method and opposes Marxist science.) This had been agreed to by Haki and the East but only to be raised up again by them at a “extended” meeting of the secretariat in D.C. in opposition to what had been agreed by CAP at the Frogmore meeting. This brought on the Greensboro conference, at which locals were supposed to bring criticisms of the SOP. Nelson Johnson and Abdul Alkalimat were supposed to “defend” the document. The Greensboro meeting saw the defeat of the narrow nationalist line and the intensification of the split within CAP. As a result of the relative lack of organizing in relationship to the presentation of the official looking ALSC document and position, that attacked without quarter the theoretical positions of most of the people initially in the front, many patriotic brothers and sisters were driven out of the front in addition to the right wing elements. The D.C. Conference, where positions were put forward by the “orthodox PanAfrikanists” – Stokley Carmichael (All Afrikan People’s Revolutionary Party) and Kwadwo Akpan (Pan Afrikan Congress, U.S.A.); Bourgeois Nationalism as Pan-Afrikanism and Cultural Nationalism. “Anti-Imperialism” & the projection of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought – Owusu Sadukai. [or at least its projection by an ex-narrow nationalist – Pan-Afrikanist now repudiating this as a developing Marxist-Leninist or “Anti-Imperialist.” It is interesting to note that Abdul Alkalimat whose presentation was thought by many ALSC elements to be the most correct presentation of an “orthodox most correct presentation of an “orthodox Marxist-Leninist” position, in that it clearly put forth class struggle, between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as the principal contradiction in US society, and was therefore a cold antidote to the various presentations which included some element of bourgeois nationalism (through RWL criticized Alkalimat’s speech in its ALSC history which had limited circulation as having certain elements of bourgeois nationalism because it mentioned “the black working class”). Alkalimat was later purged from RWL as a “renegade” for his “centrist line” and “his conciliation with the revisionist ’CP’SU and ’CP’USA”, which “mutated to conciliation with the revisionism of the RU” (Bolshevik, p. 68).] “Revolutionary Kawaida” with the beginnings of Marxist-Leninist analysis–Amiri Baraka. (What sums up the speech, which was an attempt to merge so called “revolutionary Kawaida” with the beginnings of Marxist-Leninist analysis, is this quote from Toward Ideological Clarity, “We advance an ideology that is based on cultural analysis and Nationalism, Pan-afrikanism and Socialism as its three cutting edges.”) CAP saw the split in ALSC and the whole Black Liberation Movement, “one break into two.”
The Midwest Region CAP Coference saw the split with Jitu and Haki reach its antagonist stage. This conference saw the CAP Chairman, Amiri Baraka give a speech calling for the use of Stalin, Lenin and Mao in CAP ideology. Jitu and Haki, both resigned from CAP one day after the Conference in Chicago. The resignations came in the form of letters giving the reasons to why they felt that had to resign. This was truly the style of individualism and liberalism because neither sought to discuss this matter with the Chairman of CAP during that weekend. Although they had discussion with the Chairman of CAP but about unrelated matters knowing all the time that “problems” had reached a critical point. There was even opportunity to discuss the matter in two separate meetings that were held that weekend. Jitu even rode back on the same plane with the Chairman (next to him!) to New York and never initiated any discussion on this matter (his resignation) knowing well what his action would be once returning to Brooklyn. Their letters were responded to thoroughly in a paper written by Amiri Baraka, “Haki Madhubuti and Jitu Weusi – Two Reactionary Nationalists, Individualism Brings Two Resignations” that was published as a series in Unity and Struggle. The paper exposed the essence of this right wing Kawaida line, i.e., the reactionary aspects of Kawaida and its attendant social practices of male chauvinism, bohemianism, petty bourgeois capitalism, elitism, food faddism, narrow nationalism, competing small groupism and feudalism. The break with Jitu and Haki represented the CAP break with the many reactionary aspects of Kawaida mentioned above.
The gains of this period in CAP’s development were the departure of the Black Humanist Fellows and other recalcitrant types who represented an obstruction to the building of a unitary national organization and development of the line of Nationalism, Pan Afrikanism and Socialism (Ujamaa). The addition of Dadisi and Sala Udin to EXCO as new forces to the Kawaida-Pan Afrikanist trend facilitated the consolidation of the Kawaida-Pan Afrikanist as the totally dominate trend in CAP. The ALSC was a positive influence on the development of anti-imperialist consciousness in CAP and intensified the two line struggle between the right and left Kawaida. The break with Haki and Jitu (right wing Kawaida) represented the break with many of the reactionary aspects of Kawaida and its attendant social practices and allowed CAP’s anti imperialist consciousness to develop at a more accelerated rate minus the obstructions that Jitu and Haki represented.
The mistakes of this period were continuing to deal with Kawaida in any form and its attendant social practices. Not making a clean break with reactionary nationalism. The refusal to take up the direct study and application of Marxism-Leninism and continuing to use eclectic “Afrikan” definitions of socialism, e.g., Nkrumah’s, Nyerere’s Ujamaa, etc. The failure to have more open discussions of socialism inside CAP.
The reasons for continuing to adhere to reactionary nationalism while trying to gain clarity on socialism was based on pragmatism “any thing useful is a truth” and empiricism “to neglect the particularity of contradictions and mechanically apply old experience.”
The sixth stage of the development of CAP begins with a transitional period that stretches from April to October of 1974. It was a period in which there was marked ideological struggle between the two lines of reactionary nationalism and the growing consciousness and acceptance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. April marks the break with the prior period in that it represents the month that the ideological struggle that was raging took an organizational form with the resignations of the two staunchest defenders of bourgeois nationalism, Jitu Weusi and Haki Madhubuti. They were both members of the CAP Political Council.
Their resignations were seen as a good thing and that they “should strengthen the Congress of Afrikan People, since it should enable us to forge ahead with the work of putting together our indigenous, unitary, ideology of a revolutionary party; “Comments of Chairman on Resignations of Haki Madhubuti and Jitu Weusi (IPE and The East).
The struggle then took the form of an internal battle against past practices and organization. It was during this time that the papers “Black People and Imperialism” and “National Liberation and Politics” were written both of which quote Marx, Lenin and Mao Tse Tung, however, they both put forward an incorrect view on party building seeing a need for a black party and that CAP would grow to be that party.
May, historically African Liberation Month, brought the conference at Howard University at which CAP delivered the paper “Toward Ideological Clarity”. While this paper represented a tremendous ideological leap for CAP it continued to maintain the incorrect position on the black party.
This was followed by perhaps the pivotal point in this transition period, i.e., the Sixth Pan Afrikan Congress, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. From the beginning to the end, the Sixth PAC reflected the two line struggle between bourgeois nationalism and scientific socialism. In keeping with this, the progressive line on socialist development for Africa and the world defeated the bourgeois “Pan African” line of Senghor, Tubman, Oba Tshaka and Ed Vaughn.
Upon arrival back in the states, the historic African Women’s Conference was held in NewArk, New Jersey in July. This conference was to reflect a sharp intensification of the two line struggle, added to it the particular aspect of the woman question. Following this, the changing ideological influence begins to manifest itself in the social practices, the newspaper and other aspects of the organization. Central Council voted to abandon much of the nationalist protocol of prior days. It was during this time that “CAP Going Through Changes” was released. New reading lists issued during this period that reflects a need to study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought as well, the dissemination of new definitions of Marxist scientific terminology.
October saw increased re-definition in the format of the historical CAP holiday Leo Baraka later totally eliminated, which put forward three reasons for its continuation: 1) to emphasize cadre development; 2) to study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought; 3) to concentrate on the woman question. The same month witnessed the first General Assembly of the Congress of Afrikan People as a Marxist-Leninist formation. This historic General Assembly stated “we must go forward in tune with the march of oppressed people throughout the world carrying a banner and firey torch of liberation. We must grasp firmly the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought”. This General Assembly was also marked by continuing struggle against cultural nationalism and it marked a beginning of an internal struggle with comrades from the Houston, Texas cadre who raised the banner of the productive forces theory, cult of the personality of leadership, and anti-democratic centralism. New organizational slogans were adopted: “Gain a clear knowledge of socialist theory; Defeat opportunism; Unite the party around scientific socialism; Build the Congress of Afrikan People.” (In the sense it was used, the using of “party” was incorrect and came from a shallow understanding of CAP as a pre-party formation and not understanding the difference between the pre-party formation and the party.)
Also at this time, the first Marxist-Leninist Political Council was elected. The General Assembly marked the end of the transitional period and the beginning of a growing and developing Marxist-Leninist organization. The opportunism that we pledged to defeat in our new slogan manifested itself in two deviations a “left” liquidationism, and a right restoration of bourgeois ideology as “socialism.” The “left” liquidationist tendency manifested in the way some comrades thought that acceptance of socialism meant to liquidate the national question and to see everything only as a class question. The right tendency was a restoration of bourgeois ideology as “socialism” manifested in seeing socialism as a kind of bohemianism or as “a loose assemblage of squabbling petty bourgeois intellectuals” who no longer had a need for discipline. Within the mass organization being worked with at that time, struggle against opportunism and bourgeois nationalism raged on. The leadership of the ALSC began to “abandon ship” and very little was being done by ALSC. As it later turns out, much of the ALSC leadership (RWL) had begun to put together a new Marxist-Leninist organization which was good, but did not see a need for continuing to build ALSC which was not good.
In the National Black Assembly, petty bourgeois forces coalesce in an attempt to force the Secretary General of the NBA, Amiri Baraka out of the leadership on a charge that he was an “avowed communist”. The attempt failed but did not fail to expose the gross opportunism and reactionary character of the right wing of the petty bourgeois sector of the NBA. Internally, the struggle of the Houston cadre began to emerge more clearly as time went on though various positions put forth from Houston and responses from the Chairman and members of the Political Council. Houston leadership even went as far as to support the petty bourgeois compradors in the NBA.
In November, CAP put forward a call for Workers Solidarity’ Day which represented an attempt to translate working class theory into practice and respond to the general economic crisis which, at that time, was at ah all time high. By the end of the year, we had seen a split between Revolutionary Union (RU) and CAP around the question of busing and as polemics among other Marxist-Leninist and anti-imperialist forces began to build.
The beginning of 1975 marked the beginning of more formalized study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. During this period, we studied the Four Essays in Philosophy, Mao Tse Tung; Foundations of Leninism; and the History of the CPSU(B). Workers Solidarity Day was held in various cities where CAP was located and with varying degrees of success but was generally very positive as a beginning Marxist-Leninist practical work oriented specifically around the industrial proletariat and at the point of production especially given the petty bourgeois character of much of our earlier work around electoral politics stemming out of cultural nationalism. However, the new period had yet to see a complete break with the electoral politics influence as evidenced by the character of Strategy ’76 campaign.
Although strategy ’76 was a genuine attempt to unite Marxist-Leninist forces, and an attempt to bring the NBA into a progressive multi-nationalist movement, it saw electoral politics as the best method to accomplish this task which later proved incorrect and was further bogged down by the vacillation of petty bourgeois social-democrat types. A national electoral campaign could only be waged by Marxist-Leninists from a position of strength, i.e., by means of a party, if they saw the need for it. The Stop Killer Cops campaign was also mounted at this time and proved to be a progressive and effective forum for organizing anti-repression consciousness in many parts of the country.
The Congress of Afrikan People Central Committee in April of 1975 sited the main danger in the Congress of Afrikan People as right opportunism. The organizational slogans were changed to: ”Defeat Opportunism and Bourgeois Ideology; Support Democratic Centralism, Build the Congress of Afrikan People; Firmly Grasp Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought; Our Cry: Liberation of the Black Nation; Socialist Revolution; Victory to all Oppressed Peoples.”
Further struggle with Houston around basically the same questions raised by Houston earlier. It was the struggle against the generally right opportunist (with an occasional “left” error of ultra-democracy) trends of the Houston cadre through which forces within CAP grew ideologically stronger. But right opportunism as a main danger kept many on the side lines as observers. It was at this time also that five major questions were identified and assigned to have papers written on them: The National Question, Woman Question, Trade Union, Party Building, International.
By mid-year, struggle with the Houston cadre had crystalized around four major points: Opportunism and revisionism; Who are our friends and who are our enemies; Style of language and style of work; The mass line. Drafts of the papers which were to be the basis of lines on the five major questions assigned in April were presented and discussed. Most of them needed much more work in terms of research and analysis. But the paper on party building was least developed. August saw the attempt of RWL to liquidate the ALSC based on their incorrect position on the national question and black peoples’ relationship to Africa. However, they were unable to dismantle the ALSC due to resistance put forward by CAP and other Marxist-Leninists in unity with other patriotic forces. A Continuations Committee was formed to consider the future of ALSC until the next general meeting in December, when ALSC was voted to be continued.
The National Black Assembly sponsored an economic conference August 1-3 in Atlanta, Georgia which proved to be successful in that it brought together representatives of various schools of thought relative to the economic crisis and its effect upon black people. The most concrete differences among them, however, were manifested most clearly in the two line struggle that went on within the economic conference between CAP forces and members of the Nation of Islam. Basically it was a struggle between Marxist-Leninist analysis and metaphysical and Bourgeois Nationalist declamation. Immediately following the economic conference was a meeting of the National Black Assembly which didn’t move far because of the refusal of the Assembly President, Ron Daniels, to adhere to the policy of the Assembly relative to the status of women in the meetings. Daniels refused to hear from the Women’s Caucus, a legal and legitimate arm of the Assembly. And the Women’s Caucus, in turn, refused to allow Daniels to proceed with his unjust agenda. Subsequently, Daniels adjourned the meeting and walked out.
At the October General Assembly meeting, it was voted to sponsor a major national conference on the five questions. The five questions, however, were later cut back to two; the National Question and the Woman Question as far as the national conference was concerned. Black Women’s United Front, met in Atlanta late in October also, and it is chiefly through the Black Women’s United Front that the growing relationship between CAP and OL develops later in 1975, the activity priorities of the organization are put forward as follows: 1) Increased study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought; 2) Production and distribution of Unity & Struggle as our major propaganda and organizing tool; 3) Fund raising through forums and other kinds of fund raising activities; 4) Work place organizing. It was also in October, that the struggle with Houston culminated and Houston departed.
By the end of 1975, CAP summed up Strategy ’76 and our work in the National Black Assembly as being related to the electoral politics tendency growing out of the cultural nationalist period of days gone by. Electoral politics is not incorrect in principle but as a tactic used by Marxist-Leninists it requires a strong party and as a tactic used to build the party by uniting Marxist-Leninists, it is incorrect. The split within the NBA reached the point where it became necessary to resign from the NBA making a final break with the petty bourgeois compradors who we left behind. The end of 1975 also saw the reorganization of ALSC along lines developed by the Continuations Committee. Further ALSC was to find that the originators of the proposal to abandon ALSC had returned to stay.
At the February Central Committee meeting, it was voted to restructure the Central Council and the Political Council resulting in the present Central Committee and the Political Bureau respectively. There were further recommendations made in cut backs of mass work and further changes in social practices that appeared to continue to hold us back from a firm grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. There were also decisions stabilizing the study and reduction of expenses. Further Kawaida like practices were phased out. It was at this February, 1976 Central Committee meeting also that a new name was adopted to replace the Congress of Afrikan People, Revolutionary Communist League (M-L-M); at this time we also voted to withdraw from the Puerto Rican Solidarity Day Committee, Strategy ’76 and Kawaida Towers. Open struggle with the OL line emerged initiated by our criticisms of their handling of the Fight Back Conference in Chicago, December 1975.
March was the month in which a Multi National Women’s Conference was called by Black Women’s United Front for the purpose of discussing the formation of a multi-national women’s organization. The conference was to be followed the next day by a demonstration celebrating International Working Women’s Day. The International Working Women’s Day demonstration was called by a joint effort of CAP and OL. Both these events laid bare our lack of solid positions on major questions e.g., ERA and super senority. The basis for which we see as liberalism and right opportunist errors. (Also see May issue of Unity & Struggle “CAP summation of International Women’s Day.”) The need for the inner-directed development deepening our understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, especially clarity on party building and major questions becomes more and more clear.
Internationally, this stage witnessed a heightening of both of the sharpest contradictions of Imperialism i.e., Imperialism vs. the 3rd World and Imperialism vs. Imperialism, US-USSR Superpower Contention, and especially the contradiction between imperialism and the Third World. As a direct consequence of this sharpening of all contradictions, world imperialism is in the midst of the most serious economic crisis since the great depression.
As the peoples of the world celebrated the heroic victory of the people of Vietnam over U.S. imperialism, Cambodia further beat back U.S. imperialism and later stayed the hand of imperialism’s conspiratorial attempts to reinvade Cambodian waters with the spy ship Mayaguez.
Resulting from steady military defeats in Afrika, internal contradictions inside Portugal reached a breaking point with a series of coups d’etat in 1974. Portugal’s 500 year bloody history in Afrika is brought to an end with the liberation of Mozambique, and setting the date of November 11, 1975 as independence day for Angola. However, Soviet Social Imperialism, posing as the “natural ally” of the Afrikan Liberation Movement diverted Angolans’ independence onto the path of a civil war that took more Afrikan lives than the whole 13 year struggle against Portuguese colonialism. With Soviet Social Imperialism lined up on one side contending for world hegemony against U.S. imperialism, the threat of a third world war looms closer. Soviet Social Imperialism’s contention against U.S. imperialism also showed its ugly face in the Middle East, neutralizing the struggle of the Palestinian people and rendering them still in a state of no war, no peace limbo.
Inside the People’s Republic of China, the world leader of socialist development, class struggle intensified. During this stage the world situation is reflected in continuing struggle against Soviet Social Imperialism and utilization of contradictions between it and U.S. imperialism.
Internally, the workers and peasants throughout the country meet success after success in socialist economic production, spurred on by the struggle against and criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius, peddlers of bourgeois ideology. Class struggle in the Party and among the people proved the correctness of the basic Marxist-Leninist theory of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
And as the world mourns the passing of one of the greatest revolutionary statesmen of all time. Comrade Chou En Lai, the two line struggle heated up white-hot, against the “right deviationist wind” until its source and chief proponent, the unrepentent capitalist roader was located, isolated and fully exposed. The attack was led, of course, by the greatest Marxist of our time, Comrade Chairman Mao Tse-tung, who asked the Chinese millions “You are making the Socialist Revolution and yet you don’t know where the bourgeoisie is, it is right in the Communist Party, those in power, taking the capitalist road.” And later it was added that his name is Teng Hsiao Peng, who by two great decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was expelled from all Party and government office, marking a new victory for the Chinese people and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and naming his successor, Comrade Hua Kuo Feng. “There is a great disorder under the heavens,” as Chairman Mao states, but it is not a bad thing, it is a good thing for the people.
CAP’s development, like all development, has been a confrontation and struggle between opposing tendencies. From the earliest eclecticism and fire for “national liberation” and revolution, through cultural nationalism and its pitiful reaction, to the final awareness and grasping of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, affirming it as the science of revolution, CAP has been in ultimately positive motion. No matter the twists and turns, like the struggle of the people in general, “the future is bright”.
What is clear from this brief summation of CAP’s history is the dialectical nature of not only the Congress of Afrikan People, but of the Black Liberation Movement in general, and of course all phenomena and ideas. This is affirmed because of the undialectical, subjective and mechanical misanalysis of the Black Liberation Movement (and of the Communist movement) that have been put forward by certain elements claiming to be the most correct, the most revolutionary, &c, forces in the anti-revisionist communist movement today. It seems that in this period we are drawing “most corrects” by the astonishing carloads. Some come right out front and call themselves “the party”, and their subjectivism and idealism is immediately obvious. Others reluctant to have their idealism and subjectivism exposed from the giddyup cloak their super-rightness in terms like “The Revolutionary Wing” or pat themselves on the head as having “the overall most correct line” etc., but as they spout their line, sure enough, though in many areas they are putting out some correct lines, because of their beginning subjectivism and idealism instead of serving to draw out the correct line in the struggle to unite Marxist-Leninists, and win the advanced to communism, they quickly degenerate into infantile sectarians and splitters.
We hold that at this time there is no overall most correct line, no “Revolutionary Wing”, though there are organizations with lines that seem more developed, clearer in their ultimately revolutionary intent, if that is their direction, than others. But for many of these people who claim at the tops of their voices many times theatrically, that they are the overall most correct, just a couple years ago they were opposing Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought for various reasons, or simply unaware of it. Many times they manufacture histories of themselves in the center of the various movements they come out of, the Black Liberation Movement, or Puerto Rican Liberation Movement, or Asian or Chicano Liberation Movements, student movement, and find themselves to have been always dead right, but any objective study of the histories of these organizations will find the same twists and turns, the same almost dead ends, that most of us have had to go through. To hold, as RWL does, for instance, that CAP and the US organization and all cultural nationalist organizations were simply the reactionary nationalists, and the Panthers, YOBU-SOBU, MXLU were the revolutionary nationalists, is subjective and idealist, undialectical and mechanical and plays the same hegemonist game, RWL accuses themselves of in their recent Bolshevik. At a recent forum, May first, of the so called Revolutionary Wing, some comrades from the “Wing” called the Chairman of CAP “a cultural nationalist” when ironically enough, the very person they had chairing the forum was an ex-member of CAP who, along with her husband, left CAP as the result of being struggled with for extreme forms of cultural nationalism they practiced and advocated when CAP was resisting the “US” influence. Recently, CAP has been accused of being opportunist, its Chairman of being (by Palante) “a staunch opportunist” and of needing to be “purged” (at the forum), the former for not having a position on party building, the latter in fits of sectarianism because obviously they know nothing about the inner workings of the CAP (unless they’re the FBI) and know nothing about the inner struggles for instance to come up with a consolidated position on party building. CAP must criticize itself, for its many “opinions” relating to party building, though in the main these have been confined to general statements, e.g., “Unite Marxist-Leninists”, in the absence of a consolidated CAP Central Committee sanctioned line on the question. But over a year ago Comrades in CAP were charged with presenting a paper which would be the basis for a CAP line on Party Building, but their efforts were weak and shoddy because of the liberalism and right errors that were the main danger inside this organization. Certainly we must also criticize ourselves for the weakness of programs like the Strategy ’76, which put forward that it was supposed to unite Marxist-Leninists over a long period in coalition and thereby aid party building efforts. The reasons we thought such a plan could work obviously comes from the pragmatic approach to our work inherited from the earlier stages of our development. But having no fully constructed party building line we made errors that must be ascribed to that, but we do not feel that this in itself can damn us forever as opportunists because of the admitted errors, liberalism, pragmatism, empiricism, because we fully intend to put forward a position on party building in July.
Our struggle to grasp Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought is ongoing, and errors in political line stem from incorrect grasp of the ideology, which we will struggle to correct. We have been trying to develop positions on the major questions, Party Building, AfroAmerican National Question, Woman Question, Trade Unions and International. All these projects were in motion over a year ago, and we must criticize ourselves and need to be criticized for not having been able to put them all out in comprehensive clear fashion. . .but we will. The positions on AfroAmerican National Question, Woman Question, were brought to stages of completion earlier, the International Questions as well, we have developed a basic line, and the Trade Union Question we have had to rewrite, after rethinking our positions. But at the same time we will not bow to idiotic self aggrandizing sectarian positions based on subjectivism and idealism and hegemonism that say that we must be opportunist because we have not yet come out with certain lines on certain questions–who holds the official timetable on when lines are due? Otherwise we would certainly call RWL opportunist, which we do not, for not coming out with a line on the AfroAmerican National Question. But we do not hold (as their cadre in D.C. do, in a recent criticism of CAP), that the AfroAmerican National Question is “The Black Nationalist Question”, (p. 12 ALSC paper, D.C.) an interesting slip(?) which shows a crude continuing relationship to CPUSA lines and Great Nation Chauvinism, on the surface of it, which we must suppose is the basis for the line struggle going on now in RWL about whether the Black Nation exists of not (according to an asterisk in their May Day Forum propaganda which RWL used to disclaim upholding the Leninist line on the Black Nation because they are still struggling to see whether it’s correct or not). Yes, we did feel that the AfroAmerican National Question was important because as Communists who were AfroAmericans and as part of the Black Liberation Movement we felt an urgency on this question, but all the major questions were taken up at the same time by different committees and the results were as we stated. But overemphasis on this question can be ascribed to the fact of our having moved from nationalism to communism perhaps incompletely. Even though ATM, a member of the “Revolutionary Wing”, at least at last reading, says, “Comrades, the main contradiction in the world today is the National Question. It is the oppressed nations and peoples of the world in struggle against U.S. imperialism and Soviet Social Imperialism which is moving forward the entire struggle against world wide reaction. Whether it be in South Afrika, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, or the UN – the Third World is every single day weakening the strength of the two superpowers. In our own country the struggle of the AfroAmerican people (who constitute an oppressed nation in the Black Belt South) has been in the forefront of all the struggles against the U.S. ruling class. As comrade Mao has said, the struggle of AfroAmericans is ’a storm such as has never taken place before (our emphasis) in the history of that country.” (Revolutionary Cause, p. 3, Vol. 1 No. 2) But still we believe that party building is the central task, and must address itself to the four international contradictions, including the two sharpest trends, revolution and war, though revolution, which is principal, is “an irresistible trend” in the world today.
Our relationship with OL we have criticized ourselves for, and will again. But there are certain people, PRRWO, RWL, for instance, who have had cut-buddy relationships with RU and CL, dubious distinctions we cannot claim. We have always seen RU, except in the 1st instances when hearing them described as positive by people in RWL, as chauvinists and subjectivists. CL’s line on Mao Tse Tung, and their elderly “Negro Nation” mindlessness, and weird “leftism” we have put down from the start. Now, we have had a relationship with OL, we are opportunist, but all the rest of the self-acclaimed “corrects” suffer no damage from their being hooked up with folks as odious as RU and CL! We have always had problems with aspects of WVO’s line, from their weird line on the Boston Busing, though we have not completely summed up our views on WVO, but last month they were among the super-corrects, now they have passed amidst profanity and cursing (in the May Day Forum that reminded one of unskilled petty bourgeois actors trying out for the Negro Ensemble Company’s rendition of “Ghetto Life As the Petty Bourgeois Sees It”) on out of the corrects and can even be punched and kicked as “garbage”. Even the Resistencia, who we feel has been among the most principled and correct as far as overall line, self-criticism and criticism, when they put forth that they did not hold that there was a Revolutionary Wing, only some Revolutionary Organizations, was attacked as “menshevik”, and “holding opportunist lines” and not allowed to speak at the May Day Forum, but supposed to get five minutes from the floor, as if the “RW”’s were holding court. And now there are wires that some others might leave the “Wing”, amidst their furious purging of themselves, and their cadres and whole sections in a frenzied attempt to be righter than reality.
The sectarianism will lead them nowhere but sectsville. There may even be some totally incorrect types inside these groups stirring this infantile sectarianism up, in the same of Bolshevism. The cursing, fist fights, furious condemnations of everybody is the results of idealism, subjectivism, and the reverse side of the empiricism (which they are still guilty of), dogmatism. Empiricism, (Bolshevik Vol. 1) which they criticized themselves for, is merely the reverse side of the subjectivist coin, dogmatism, and it is easy to see how they have flip flopped from one side of it to the other.
You cannot, for instance, jump into working peoples’ faces and curse them, that is a petty bourgeois illusion. We do not play that. We are for open and above board struggle, serious vigorous struggle, but the ”demolishing people with one blow” by trying to intimidate them with of all things profanity, is stupid, and if ever, in their travels, they run into people who are not also petty bourgeois types, dangerous.
The struggle to build a Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in this country, a “U.S. Bolshevik Party”, is part of the irresistible trend of revolution in the world. Though it is not a straight line, “there are twists and turns, but the future is bright”. CAP has become the Revolutionary Communist League (M-L-M), and we intend to become that not only in name, but in essence. And as such, we intend to be an even more active and dynamic part of the historic motion to build the party that will make Socialist Revolution in the U.S.A.! This is our commitment, for many of us, already in the struggle at least a decade, reflecting only a small part of the centuries old struggle of the working people and oppressed nationalities in the U.S.A., and the age old struggle of the Working Class and oppressed people all over the world. We say, “Cast Away Illusions, Prepare For Struggle”. That is exactly what we are trying to do.
 “History of ALSC,” RWL.