First Published: Unity and Struggle, Vol. V, No. 6, May 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism. (Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism – Lenin, p. 153)
To begin with the Congress of Afrikan People (CAP) must criticize ourselves for not laying out our contradictions with the political line of the October League (O.L.) before now and sharpening the ideological struggle between CAP and OL in the open. Later on this paper CAP will attempt to deepen this criticism showing the ideological roots for our errors, which objectively united with the Right Opportunist line of the O.L. But first, because of the intensified class struggle within the Anti-Revisionist Communist movement (and we see this as a good thing), we find it necessary to attempt to sum up our ideological struggle and social practice with O.L. around International Women’s Day in particular, because the struggle around International Women’s Day speaks to some general right opportunist trends in the Communist movement in general and in O.L. in particular. CAP also unites with other genuine Marxist-Leninists that right opportunism is the main danger within the Communist movement today.
In our criticism and self-criticism of International Women’s Day we are going to attempt to lay out how CAP and O.L. united to build for I.W.D. (1976) and the line struggle that took place between CAP and O.L. up to and including the day of the demonstration. The line struggle between CAP and O.L. centered around: How do Communists do work among the masses? How do you win the advanced to Communism? (By advanced we mean those workers “who can win the confidence of the laboring masses, who devote themselves entirely to the education and organization of the proletariat, who accept socialism consciously, and who even elaborate independent socialist theories. . .workers, who despite their wretched living conditions, despite the stultifying penal servitude of factory labour, possess so much character and will-power that they study, study, study, and turn themselves into conscious Social-Democrats – ’the working-class intelligentsia.’” (Lenin, “A Retrograde Trend In Russian Social-Democracy,” Vol. 4, pp. 280). Other Struggles: The role of propaganda in general and slogans in particular? Party Building’s Relationship to the International Women’s Day.
CAP, recognizing our theoretical weakness, and in summing up the lessons we learned from last year’s International Women’s Day Anti-Imperialist Coalition led by O.L., as well as the work we had to do within the Black Women’s United Front (BWUF) to build for the Multi-National Women’s Conference, decided that we should not take the lead independently to build for International Women’s Day. CAP then met with O.L. to discuss unity around International Women’s Day. It was from this discussion that CAP and O.L. united around “No United Action with Revisionists” as the main principle of unity and the other Principles of Unity were: 1) Full equality for Women. 2) Oppose Super-power preparation for War. 3) Support the Struggle of Third World People. 4) Down with Imperialism.
From this unity CAP and O.L. moved to build an “Anti-Imperialist” Coalition. Here it should be noted that O.L. put forward these principles of unity, only to later on try to withdraw the second principle of unity (Oppose superpower preparation for War) when the principles of unity became slogans in the International Women’s Day demonstration. It is clear to us now in summing up our approach to International Women’s Day, CAP in building for International Women’s Day did not take into consideration the sharpening of class struggle in the International Communist movement. The emergence of an open Right Opportunist line on the question of Soviet Social Imperialism by some forces in the Anti-Revisionist movement – that would prove they were not Anti-Revisionist but revisionists in new disguise. We have to unite with the Comrades from the August 29th Movement (ATM) who clearly pull the cover off of O.L.’s disguise.
With the defeat of modern revisionism did not come the death of opportunism. It was forced to assume a new mask, to cover itself ever more cleverly and insidiously with the cloak (but not the essence) of Marxism. Opportunists who talk about ’peaceful transition’ and ’party of the whole people,’ etc., etc., were obviously not going to be able to get over as easily with the advanced elements who were receiving their baptism in the rebellions and mass movements of the 60’s and 70’s.
No, to succeed in their task opportunism had to wave the flag of Marxism, to shout about ’armed struggle,’ and ’building a new communist party,’ and attacking the CPUSA. But attacking revisionism does not make one anti-revisionist. We need only look at the Trotskyist Communist Labor Party to see the truth of this as they continue their shameful grovelling at the feet of Soviet social-imperialism and attack the correct leadership of the Communist Party of China. In our Unity Statement we refer to this latest brand of opportunism as the ’new revisionists.’ (We are referring here to a tendency, not necessarily the out-front revisionism of Marxist-Leninist principles.”) (Revolutionary Cause, Vol. 1, No. 3, Feb. 76, p. 7-8)
In trying to get to the ideological roots of our error we did not apply the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. We did not sum up concrete conditions of the World today but instead made an empiricist error by just going by what had been our practice last I.W.D. (1975) with O.L. Specifically we did not use a dialectical materialist approach, our decision was not based on time, place and conditions. Instead we fell to idealism and metaphysics, which in turn because we did not correct this error gave rise to other errors along the same lines.
Both CAP and O.L. were aware of another “Anti-Imperialist” coalition that had been pulled together by Workers Viewpoint. Both CAP and O.L. met and agreed that we should attend these coalition meetings to win as many honest forces as we could to the Anti-Imperialist coalition O.L. and CAP were building. This coalition that Workers Viewpoint had pulled together was characterized by Trots (YAWF), lesbians and revisionists (the revisionists were there in the person of some representatives from the U.N. coalition who openly stated their union with the revisionists by calling for the coalitions to unite around the principle of Peace, Development and Equality). In the minority were some Marxist-Leninist organizations. The main struggle in the coalition was how do genuine Marxist-Leninists stand on the question of Soviet Social Imperialism.
When CAP and O.L. entered the coalition there was unprincipled unity around a non-Marxist-Leninist definition of Imperialism which was a cover for Soviet Social Imperialism. This was proven when the question of a genuine Anti-Imperialist coalition was sharpened, there was an attempt to merge a two line struggle into one. This attempt to cover class struggle led to a Comrade from Workers Viewpoint telling CAP that CAP could not respond to a written criticism made by the Latin Women’s Collective that accused CAP of “disruption” (by this they mean by carrying on a 2 line struggle) and “Ultra Leftism” (by this they mean raising Anti-Soviet Social Imperialism to the level of a principle of unity.) Objectively there were 2 lines in the meeting and in fact the coalition split when the Comrades from Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO) and Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) led the struggle to put the question to a vote. By this time El Comite-MINP) had already split. After the vote to include Soviet Social Imperialism in the definition of Anti-Imperialism the Trots, lesbians, and revisionists split. After the split PRRWO called for sum up of the split and proposed that the Marxist-Leninist and Anti-Imperialist forces meet again to form a genuine Anti-Imperialist coalition for International Women’s Day. (Organizations present were PRRWO, RWL, WVO, OL, CAP, and FFM).
The question of Soviet Social Imperialism and how it was dealt with in this “Anti-Imperialist” coalition called together by Workers Viewpoint is a reflection of the class struggle in the International Communist Movement where genuine Marxist-Leninists are closing their ranks and becoming more vigilant against Soviet Social Imperialism, which is the main source of war today.
Before going into the Anti-Imperialist coalition meeting called by PRRWO, CAP had a pre-meeting where we made an incorrect summation in which we viewed unity of action as primary, pushed line struggle into the background. This summation was based on empiricism (i.e., our 75 International Women’s Day demonstration with O.L.) “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 general character of things. More important, we should pay attention to the individual character of everything, that is, the particular contradictions 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 inapplicable. To neglect the particularity of contradictions and mechanically apply old experience is empiricism” (Study Philosophy, “Overcoming Empiricism”, pp. 19) Carrying this empiricist error into the meeting CAP consistently lined up with O.L.’s Right Opportunist line that “Unity Of Action” is primary in coalitions. This error masked the difference in line between CAP and O.L. In the beginning of the meeting PRRWO put forward 11 principles of unity: 1) Oppose the Superpowers and danger of World War. 2) Superpowers out of Angola 3) support the National Liberation Struggles 4) Independence for Puerto Rico 5) Support the struggle of the Iranians against Imperialism and Against the Shah of Iran 6) Fight ruling class attempt to shift the burden of economic and political crisis onto the backs of the working class. Oppose union busting, cutbacks, speed-ups, layoffs and unemployment 7) Fight the menace of fascism, including the S-l bill, police repression, forced busing and all forms of chauvinist and degenerate culture, Title 20 8) Fight for democratic rights of oppressed nationalities and women 9) Oppose super seniority 10) Oppose all forms of women’s oppression, equal pay for equal work, universal daycare-free and 24 hour, paid maternity leaves, fight for equal employment. 11) Defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.
After PRRWO laid out the above Principles of Unity this is when the class struggle emerged between the Marxist-Leninists. O.L. stated that they could not unite around opposition to the Shah of Iran, opposition to forced busing, defeat of the ERA and opposition to Super Seniority. It was at this point that we, CAP, tailed O.L.’s right line by not making a clear demarcation between our line and the O.L. line on these questions and in fact walked out of the meeting with O.L. In self-criticism it is our view that this is what led to the Comrades from Resistencia printing in newspaper that CAP and O.L. held the same lines. “We should support ERA, super seniority, and forced busing.” (O.L. and CAP) – (Resistencia, Vol. 7, #2, pp. 6).
This was an error of their liberalism “to hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist” (Selected Readings from the works of Mao-Tsetung, Combat Liberalism, pp. 135).
Objectively, it must also be added that the line taken by PRRWO, RWL and WVO that the Principles of Unity as put forward by PRRWO had to be taken or people objecting to them had to leave, is a sectarian error. The Principles of Unity should have been put out to further the line struggle, not merely to drive O.L. out with no further explanation. Though it is the internal contradictions within the CAP that made us tail O.L. out of the meeting, not seeking clear demarcation as to actual line, but the conditions for that error were clearly set up by sectarianism of using the principles of unity as “wolfbane” to drive out the vampire rather than a method of deepening the line struggle, and finally achieving a similar but more progressive end.
In an attempt to make a clear line of demarcation and deepen the struggle between CAP and O.L. on political line, we are going to briefly lay out our differences with O.L. The line of the O.L. that says you cannot oppose the Shah of Iran because he is a part of the United Front Against Imperialism is an abandonment of Proletarian Internationalism and a misunderstanding and misuse of the Chinese line on United Front. O.L.’s line attempts to disarm the revolutionary people of Iran against their own reactionaries. In 1963 the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in a letter to the Soviet Union states, “When a United Front is formed with the bourgeoisie, the policy of the proletarian party should be one of both unity and struggle. The policy should be to unite with the bourgeoisie, insofar as they tend to be progressive, Anti-Imperialist and Anti-Feudal, but to struggle against their reactionary tendencies to compromise and collaborate with imperialism and the forces of feudalism.” (A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement, p. 17). While CAP sees the Shah of Iran as part of the United Front Against Imperialism, we uphold and join the Iranian peoples struggle to oppose the Shah of Iran. CAP upholds the Chinese position that “resolute revolutionary struggle by the people of all countries and of carrying the proletarian world revolution forward to the end: it is the line that most effectively combats imperialism and defends world peace;;, (ibid, p. 4)
O.L. line on busing is a straight out revisionist line that drops the struggle for self-determination of Afro-American people and unites with the liberal bourgeoisie and bourgeois assimilationists. O.L. goes so far as to state that the “Black Liberation Movement is a struggle for integration.” This is an out and out reformist line on the AfroAmerican question. O.L. sacrifices the long term principles of the proletariat and oppressed nationalities instead of supporting the democratic rights, self-determination and self-defense of the AfroAmericans. O.L. upholds bourgeois democracy and calls for the instrument of the bourgeoisie, the state, to defend the rights of the working class and oppressed nationalities and the right of self-determination and self-defense of Afro-American people in particular.
Though CAP does not have a consolidated line on the ERA and super seniority, we think it is important to state that we in CAP are going to serious take up both questions, the ERA and super seniority in light of what other Communist organizations have stated concerning the reformist and divisive nature of the ERA and super seniority, as well as some independent study. We still publish our position as soon as we have a consolidated position.
It is crystal clear to us now that these line differences we have with O.L. are and were deeper than we were theoretically clear enough to understand. The further implication of these line differences didn’t come out until CAP and O.L. began to build together for International Women’s Day.
A few days later, after O.L. led the split (with us following) from the Anti-Imperialist coalition called by PRRWO, O.L. called CAP to say they (O.L.) wanted to drop the slogan: Oppose Superpower Preparation for War. Not only were we taken back by O.L’s open right opportunist line, because we had just struggled with the same opportunist line in the coalition Workers Viewpoint had called together with the aid of O.L., but it also raised serious questions to us as why O.L. upheld this slogan until a few days after the split with the Anti-Imperialist coalition. Do they want us to believe that the Central Committee of O.L. changed their line on this slogan in those few days after the split? (This is what they said) Or was this one of O.L.’s tactics (upholding the slogan) to keep CAP under its hegemony by making believe that they firmly stood against Soviet Social Imperialism which CAP and other genuine Marxist-Leninists clearly see as the main source of Imperialist war in the world today. In an attempt to justify this revisionist line and philistine attitude, O.L. laid out the following incorrect lines: 1. It was a tactical error for O.L. to have put that slogan out in the beginning. 2. Slogan would drive masses from coalition. 3. Don’t have to oppose both superpowers. 4. Raising the danger of World War would scare masses from revolution.
On the first line put out by O.L. about the slogan being a tactical error, we ask the O.L. to read Stalin on Strategy and Tactics ”Tactics are subordinate to the interest of strategy. Speaking generally, tactical successes prepare for strategic successes. The function of tactics is to lead the masses into the struggle in such a way, to issue slogans, to lead the masses to new positions, in such a way, that the struggle should, in sum, result in the winning of the war, i.e., in strategic successes. But cases occur when a tactical success frustrates, or postpones, strategic success. In view of this, it is necessary, in such cases, to forgo tactical successes.
“Example. The agitation against the war that we conducted among workers and soldier at the beginning of 1917, under Kerensky, undoubtedly resulted in a tactical setback, for the masses dragged our speakers off the platforms, beat them up, and sometimes tore them limb from limb: instead of the masses being drawn into the Party, they drew away from it. But in spite of the tactical setback, this agitation brought nearer a big strategic success, for the masses soon realized that we were right in agitating against the war, and later this hastened and facilitated their going over to the side of the Party.” (Stalin on Strategy and Tactics, p. 8) O.L.’s petty bourgeois vacillation on the question of the slogan, Oppose Superpower Preparation for War as being tactically incorrect points again to O.L. sacrificing the long term interest of the proletariat, Proletarian Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, for what they termed tactical slogans that would allow for the “democratic forces” to participate.
Line two of O.L. that opposition to both U.S. Imperialism and Soviet Social Imperialism would drive masses from coalition. This raises the question as to who was the propaganda of the coalition aimed at? It is our view O.L. was aiming at the lower strata of the Proletariat (by lower strata we mean “the very undeveloped workers”) this line is further seen by O.L.’s fear of raising Communist demands in the coalition. Line three: You don’t have to oppose both superpowers, flies in the face of the 2 sharpest contradictions in the world today, the contradiction between Imperialism and Third World people and the contradiction between Imperialism and Imperialism, which give rise to the two main trends in the world today – War and Revolution. “It has become an irresistible historical trend today for the people of the whole world, and many medium-sized and small countries, to unite and oppose hegemony by the two superpowers, U.S. Imperialism and Social-Imperialism, and draw a close line of demarcation between themselves and these superpowers. Revolutionary dialectics is sticking firm roots in the heart of the people, is being grasped by more and more Marxist-Leninist political parties and revolutionary people. It has become their sharp weapon in making revolution. So long as they integrate the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice in the revolutionary movement of their respective countries, the revolutionary people of all land will overthrow this entire old world and win final victory in the proletarian world revolution.” (Three Major Struggles on China’s Philosophical Front – 1949-64, p. 65-66).
Lastly, O.L.’s line raising the danger of World War would scare the masses from revolution is an out and out Soviet line. March 30, 1963 the Soviet Union in a letter to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party states “If Communists were to start tying up the victory of the socialist revolution with world war, this would not evoke any sympathy for socialism, but would drive the masses away from it. With modern means of warfare having such terrible destructive consequences an appeal like this would only play into the hands of our enemies.” Now check where this line fed to – in the next paragraph – “The working class and its vanguard, the Marxist-Leninist Parties, endeavor to carry out Socialist Revolutions in a peaceful way without civil war.” – (A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement, p. 81) – This is the same low-lifed and deadly line the revisionists themselves, U.S.S.R., used to justify their betrayal of the international proletariat and the revising of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.
The question of O.L. attempting to do away with the slogan (oppose superpower preparation for war) is linked to O.L.’s real stand on Soviet Social Imperialism. If they are willing to let Soviet Social Imperialism slide and go unexposed as the main source of World War, for the sake of not losing “honest” forces that don’t have a position on Soviet Social Imperialism (as they put it) then they clearly don’t understand the danger of Soviet Social Imperialism, or how to win the advanced to Communism to build the Bolshevik party which is the missing link to Proletarian Revolution in the U.S.
O.L.’s right opportunist line degenerated to the point of abandoning Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. On International Women’s Day O.L. had no Communist literature, no Communist slogans, no Communist speakers, no Communist culture. In fact O.L later criticized CAP for bringing Communist slogans and culture to the demonstration. Although in the coalition meetings O.L. said they would bring independent Communist slogans and literature, when raised that Communist demands should come out of the coalition this was the O.L. line particularly when asked about the coalition stand on superpowers out of Angola. O.L. consistently said O.L. would bring Communist demands and literature to the demonstration.
In summing up why O.L. said one thing and did another we trace this to O.L. seeking hegemony over new Communist groups, collectives and study circles. In fact, O.L.’s real line on this question surfaced in their newspaper The Call. “CAP further conciliated with these opportunists by failing to put forth a firm program of its own on the immediate demands for democratic rights that were the focus of the debate. This was reflected in the march and rally as well, where CAP used the slogan, “Build the Vanguard Party,” in opposition to the coalition’s broader, democratic slogans like “Free Todd and Woods!” or “Build the Fight Back.” O.L. following through on their right line sees democratic demands as being opposed to Revolutionary demands. It is CAPs line that we were correct in putting Communist slogans and demands on International Women’s Day.
Communism must be raised on International Women’s Day because International Women’s Day is not just a special event, but a question of strategic importance because as the Chinese say, “Women’s liberation is a component part of proletarian revolution.” “The thesis must clearly point out that real freedom for women is possible only through Communism. The inseparable connection between the social and human position of the women and private property in the means of production, must be strongly brought out. That will draw a clear and ineradicable line of distinction between our policy and feminism” (Woman Question, Lenin, p. 89) O.L. takes an opportunist line on the Woman Question artificially separating the woman question from proletarian revolution, this is why they couldn’t see the relationship of International Women’s Day to Party Building.
In summing up the ideological errors and political line of O.L. it is clear the deviation is Right Opportunism. O.L.’s right opportunism surfaces in their handling of International Woman’s Day; unity of action before unity on political line, Shah of Iran; Busing; Aiming the propaganda for International Women’s Day to the lower strata of the proletariat; Posing artificial opposition between democratic and Communist slogans and demands. Their line that reforms are everything and O.L.’s liquidation of the struggle against Soviet Social Imperialism.
In summing up the line of O.L., we in CAP can see we have made errors similar to that of the O.L. However, we in CAP are trying to analyze our errors and get to the root of them so we can correct them. In line with correcting our errors we are stressing study to get a firm grasp of the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and the philosophical outlook of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, dialectical materialism and historical materialism.
Another serious contradiction CAP has with the O.L. is the question of opportunism’s relationship to Imperialism. O.L. denies that the Super-profits of Imperialism based on super exploitation of the 3rd World, are used “to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others. The intensification of antagonism between imperialist nations for the division of the world increases this striving. And so there is created that bond, between Imperialism and opportunism, which revealed itself first and most clearly in England, owing to the fact that certain features of imperialist development were observable there much earlier than in other countries.” (Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism – Lenin, P. 152).
O.L.’s line unites with that of Martov on the question of the effects of imperialism on the working class movement and the connection between opportunism and imperialism. We in CAP came to understand this connection in an attempt to trace the material base for the division among white workers and workers of oppressed nationalities in particular. O.L. instead, seems to think that admitting this fact (in order to struggle against it) represents a pessimistic view of the working class movement. This view of O.L.’s to our understanding unites with Martov’s “Official optimism.” “Some writers, L. Martov, for example, are prone to wave aside the connection between imperialism and opportunism in the working class movement – a particularly glaring fact at the present time – by resorting to “Official optimism” (a la Kautsky and Huysmans) like the following: the cause of the opponents of capitalism would be hopeless if it were precisely progressive capitalism that led to the increase of opportunism, or, if it were precisely the best paid workers who were inclined towards opportunism, etc. We must have no illusions about ’optimism’ of this kind. It is optimism in regard to opportunism which serves to conceal opportunism. As a matter of fact the extraordinary rapidity and the particularly revolting character of the development of opportunism is by no means a guarantee that is victory will be durable: the rapid growth of a malignant abscess on a healthy body can only cause it to burst more quickly and thus relieve the body of it. The most dangerous of all in this respect are those who do not wish to understand that the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism.” (Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism – Lenin, pp. 152-153)
 Communists at this time used the name social-democrats.
 Martov also was the chief defender for the building of a Menshevik Party and was entirely opposed to Lenin’s formula for a Bolshevik Parry.