First Published: The Workers’ Advocate, Vol. 6, No. 6, September 1, 1976.
Reprinted, but edited for republication: in the pamphlet, MaoTsetung Thought Versus Opportunism, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
In the past year, the October League (Marxist-Leninist) has issued loud calls for “unity of Marxist-Leninists”. At its third congress in July 1975, Mike Klonsky, OL Chairman, declared that all the conditions for the formation of a “Marxist-Leninist Party” were then in existence. Since then, two “unity” calls have been issued by OL and affiliated groups. A “congress” to form the “party” has been announced for later this year.
What is the nature of the “party” the October League is organizing? Will this bring about the long-cherished goal of the advanced worker s, the re-creation of the revolutionary Party of the U.S. proletariat?
The Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists holds that Marxist-Leninists should not cooperate with the OL’s “party building” efforts. Put most briefly, the OL’s “party-building” efforts are not aimed at building a revolutionary Party based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and proletarian internationalism, but at building an opportunist, bourgeois party based on social-chauvinism and neo-revisionism. The October League (Marxist-Leninist) does not even include Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in its seven “basic principles of unity” around which it “calls on all Marxist-Leninists to unite in the new party” (first “unity” call, November 1975). How can one be a Marxist-Leninist and “forget” Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought?
Frightened by the growing danger of world war between the two imperialist superpowers, Klonsky and the OL leaders have openly abandoned revolution and have sought refuge on the side of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie in its war preparations against its Russian rivals. In their red, white and blue publications, the OL leaders call upon the U.S. Marxist-Leninists and working class to direct their “main blow” at the U.S.S.R.’ (The Call, May 31, 1976) This means that the American working class should give up the proletarian revolution against its own oppressors, the U.S. monopoly capitalist class, and instead it should unite with them to jointly direct their “main blow” at the U.S.S.R. This is nothing but counter-revolutionary social-chauvinism (socialism in words, chauvinism in deeds). By giving up revolution in the U.S. the OL gives up the main contribution of the American workers to the world revolution, the soul of proletarian internationalism. Should the American and Russian workers slaughter each other for the profits of the U.S. and Soviet monopoly bourgeoisie, thereby splitting the international proletariat? The October League holds that they should. By diverting the U.S. Marxist-Leninist and workers’ movements towards a foreign enemy, the social-chauvinism of the OL is a big help to the U.S. imperialists in their increasingly urgent war preparations. It especially helps the “liberal” bourgeois Carter and the “pro-labor” Democratic Party in their task of deceiving the workers in order to “restore confidence” in the U.S. government so as to free the hands of the U.S. imperialists to wage aggressive war.
The social-chauvinism of the OL leaders is by no means accidental. They oppose Mao Tsetung Thought, oppose the revolutionary role of the U.S. working class and oppose the proletarian socialist character of the U.S. revolution. They capitulate to and ally themselves with the “liberal” bourgeoisie in the U.S. in its dogfights with the ”conservative” bourgeoisie. Now they are simply allying with the whole U. S. imperialist bourgeoisie against its foreign rivals.
The OL leaders, who are now calling for “unity”, have a long history of splitting the revolutionary people. They have never remolded their bourgeois world outlook since the days when, as leaders of Students for a Democratic Society, they worked to split and liquidate the youth and student movement of the 1960’s. The formation of the October League in 1971-72 meant that Klonsky and company merely adapted their New Leftism, itself an offspring of revisionism and social-democracy, to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in order to oppose it. They wave the Red Book to hide the fact that they were opposing the Red Book. Their bourgeois world outlook and political line placed them in sharp opposition to the interests of the proletariat and oppressed people. As a result they always worked to split the revolutionary movement. They rebuffed every effort of the genuine Marxist-Leninists, led at first by the American Communist Workers Movement (Marxist-Leninist) and later by the Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists, to unite the Marxist-Leninists, opposing the call “Marxist-Leninists, Unite!” first raised by us in November 1972, as well as earlier attempts at principled unity. Instead, the OL leaders took up the Khrushchovite revisionist line of labelling ”ultra-leftism” as ”the main danger” and incessantly slandered the genuine Marxist-Leninists as “ultra-leftists” and “CIA agents”. In their present “party-building” efforts, the OL has continued on the same path, arbitrarily including some groups and excluding others, while giving up all proletarian principle. For such activities, the OL leaders have won for themselves a richly deserved reputation as big right-wing sectarians and splitters.
The COUSML is firmly in favor of unity, but only unity of Marxist-Leninists based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and proletarian internationalism. Only a Party built on this basis can lead the proletarian revolution in the U.S. and make a contribution to the world revolution. The party the October League leaders are building is a party to kiss the feet of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie. The question raised by the OL’s calls for “unity” is: Mao Tsetung Thought or social-chauvinism?
Let us look at the social-chauvinist and neo-revisionist stand of the October League on several fundamental questions of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.
The Marxist-Leninist movement in the U.S. was re-invigorated in the 1960’s. In the midst of the mass struggles, the thunder of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution brought the American revolutionaries Mao Tsetung Thought, the highest development of Marxism-Leninism, the Marxism-Leninism of our era. Just as the American revolutionaries of 1917-21 had rebelled against the old-style revisionism of the Second International, took up Leninism and built the Communist Party, so the revolutionaries of the 1960’s rebelled against the Khrushchovite revisionists who had destroyed the Communist Party, and against all their offspring, took up Mao Tsetung Thought and the lessons of the Cultural Revolution and set out to re-create the Communist Party of the American proletariat. This was the stand taken by the American Communist Workers Movement (Marxist-Leninist) and other genuine Marxist-Leninists right from 1969. At that time to stand up for Mao Tsetung Thought meant to go against the heavy tide of reactionary New Leftism, Trotskyism, social-democracy and revisionism.
The October League was formed in 1971-72. By this time the work of ACWM(M-L) had led to many victories for Mao Tsetung Thought in the U.S. In this situation the OL “boldly” declared itself, too, a “supporter” of Mao Tsetung Thought and the Cultural Revolution. But instead of taking up Mao Tsetung Thought and working to build the Party, the OL leaders were only adapting their New Leftism to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, waving Chairman Mao’s red flag to oppose Chairman Mao’s forces.
As soon as it was formed, the OL promptly “forgot” about Mao Tsetung Thought for four years. No articles appeared in OL’s press discussing its significance. The name even disappeared and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought became only Marxism-Leninism. The OL Constitution was adopted in August 1975 and stated: ”The October League takes Marxism-Leninism as the theoretical basis guiding its thinking.” Then the OL dumped Marxism-Leninism altogether. In November 1975, OL issued its document Marxist-Leninists Unite to Build the New Party, which claimed to put forward “a minimal basis for unity at the present time”. Out of seven “points of unity”, neither Marxism-Lenin ism nor Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is put forward as one of the “basic principles of unity around which we call on all Marxist-Leninists to unite in the new party.” What a fraud! How can Marxist-Leninists even begin to think of uniting to build the Party if the party’s principal point of unity, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is not even mentioned? How is it possible to consider someone a Marxist-Leninist if they “forget” the theoretical basis of our Party?
In fact, someone must have noticed the “omission”. Suddenly, in ensuing months, the editorial columns of The Call began to insist that the party would be built “on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought”. And when the second “unity call” appeared in July 1976,Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought had been inserted as the first on the list of points of unity. From ”forgotten” to first principle – it seems that to Klonsky and company Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is something that flies in and out the window as the need arises to restore their neo-revisionist camouflage. For the “party” Klonsky is building, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is an optional accessory, like a tape deck in a new car.
Thus, after pledging allegiance to Mao Tsetung Thought, for years OL does not mention ordeal with it at all. When they decide to call for the “party”, Marxism-Leninism is “forgotten” altogether. When reminded of the “omission”, it shows up again. This is a sharp exposure of OL’s bourgeois eclecticism. To them, the word s “Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought” mean nothing; the real ideas in their heads are bourgeois ideas. How, then, can the OL leaders claim to be uniting people “on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought”? (Second “unity” call, July 1976).
We are living in one of those times in the U.S. of which Chairman Mao wrote: “The creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory plays (he principal and decisive role in those times of which Lenin said Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. ” (On Contradiction) The theory for the American revolution is Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, and the strategy and tactics of the American revolution must be based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. But the October League leaders are trying to kick aside Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.
Further evidence of OL leaders’ hostility to Mao Tsetung Thought can be seen in their disdainful attitude toward the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. The COUSML and its predecessors have always held that adherence to Mao Tsetung Thought means learning and applying to U.S. conditions the lessons of the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution was an important sign that Marxism-Leninism had developed to a new stage, Mao Tsetung Thought. Mao Tsetung Thought and the experience of the Cultural Revolution are not only applicable to the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat in China but al so to the class struggle under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in the United States. In fact, they are obligatory for U.S. Marxist-Leninists to combat revisionism and build a genuinely revolutionary Party.
What is the OL’s attitude toward the Cultural Revolution? Right now, because of the anti-revisionist upsurge in China, the OL leaders are mouthing “support” for it, saying it’s fine for China. But they still persist in denying the application of its lessons to the U.S. The role of the Cultural Revolution in guiding and teaching the U.S. Marxist-Leninists is nowhere mentioned in the two “unity” calls issued by the OL, although these “calls” claim to give a summation of the recent development of the U.S.Marxist-Leninist movement. And even in their latest articles on the anti-revisionist struggle in China, the OL leaders persist in treating the Cultural Revolution as something whose lessons apply only to socialist countries. Naturally following this logic, what application could Mao Tsetung Thought have to U.S. conditions?
Even more revealing of OL’s attitude is a comparison of the statements of the OL at the time of the Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1973 with their statements made recently upon the overthrow of the capitalist-roader Teng Hsiao-ping. The 1973 article was OL’s main statement on the class struggle in China until recently. In it the OL opposed the Tenth Congress’s characterization of the bourgeois conspirator Lin Piao as an ultra-rightist, brazenly declaring that he was an “ultra-leftist”. (Printed above OL’s. article in The Call, October 1973 were sections of the Congress’s political report, carefully excerpted to leave out the denunciation of Lin Piao as an ultra-rightist.) The Report to the Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (adopted August 28, 1973) spoke of “The ultra-rightist nature of the Lin Piao anti-Party clique”. But OL wrote:
“The Congress took place in a great spirit of unity and marked the victory of the important struggle against the anti-Party group of ultra-leftists’ led by Lin Piao . . . Lin’s ultra-’left’ line which attacked the united front strategy against imperialism, was defeated after the Ninth Party Congress. The Tenth Congress placed the task of criticizing this ultra-’left’ line and rectifying the party’s style of work above all else.”
The purpose of OL’s trickery was to use the anti-revisionist struggle in China to label the supporters of the Cultural Revolution and Mao Tsetung Thought in the U.S., such as the COUSML and its predecessors, as “ultra-leftists”. This was a big part of OL’s slander campaign against the genuine Marxist-Leninists, which continues to date. Here OL was claiming that Marxist-Leninists are people of the Lin Piao type, denounced by the Communist Party of China and Chairman Mao himself. The intent of this was to discredit the U.S. Marxist-Leninists and disrupt the process of building the Marxist-Leninist Party. In fact, it amounted to opposition to Mao Tsetung Thought and the Cultural Revolution.
The OL itself revealed the meaning of its 1973 statements in a recent article about the current class struggle in China, written by OL members after a visit there during the present struggle against the right-deviationist attempt by the capitalist-roaders to reverse the correct verdicts of the Cultural Revolution in order to restore capitalism. In this article, “Class Struggle the Key Link in Chinese Revolution” (The Call, May 1,1976) the OL wrote: “Teng described Lin as an ’ultra-leftist’. This was a way of covering up the fact that Lin was a rightist”.
Here OL has exposed itself. It, too, in its 1973 statements, called Lin Piao an “ultra-leftist” to cover up the fact that he was a rightist. Why? To attack the Cultural Revolution, just like Teng Hsiao-ping, and to brand the genuine Marxist-Leninists in the U.S. as followers of Lin Piao and as “ultra-leftists” in order to hide OL’s own rightism. Thus already in 1973 OL was allied with the bourgeoisie in the Communist Party of China to reverse the correct verdicts of the Chinese Party and people against right opportunism in order to promote their own revisionist line in the United States.
The OL article then continues:
“Teng also attacked the Cultural Revolution as an ’ultra-left’ mistake, claiming that it harmed experienced cadres of the party.” Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao also attacked the Cultural Revolution as “ultra-left” (as did Brezhnev and Gus Hall). In an identical way the OL has always attacked the followers of Mao Tsetung Thought and the Cultural Revolution in the U.S. as “ultra-leftists”. Thusthe complete unity of thinking of the OL leaders with Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and Teng Hsiao-ping is clear. It doesn’t matter how many articles the OL leaders write and circulate internationally today “supporting” the current struggle against the Chinese capitalist-roaders, nor how much they drape themselves in the mantle of the greatest “supporters” of China. They cannot hide their longstanding practice of flagrantly distorting Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line on the Cultural Revolution in order to support the capitalist-roaders in China and to attack the Marxist-Leninists in the U.S.
Thus Klonsky and the OL leaders are bitterly opposed to Mao Tsetung Thought and the experience of the Cultural Revolution. Refusing to learn from and practice them, they oppose the revolutionary theory of the modern proletariat.
The October League’s opposition to Mao Tsetung Thought leads it, in practice, to an alliance with the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie. As we shall see in the third part of this article, the OL has always opposed the revolutionary role of the proletariat and allied itself with the “liberal” bourgeoisie, to fight its dogfights for it. Now this class capitulationist stand has led the OL leaders to open opposition to revolution and an alliance with the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie against its Russian rivals.
Klonsky and the OL leaders see the growing preparations of the two imperialist superpowers for a reactionary world war between them. At this they go pale with fright, launch vicious propaganda for the liquidation of revolution and run for cover under the protection of Uncle Sam.
On May 20, 1970, in his famous statement on the world revolution, Chairman Mao wrote:
“The danger of a new world war still exists, and the people of all countries must get prepared. But revolution is the main trend in the world today.” (People of the World, Unite and Defeat the U. S. Aggressors and all their Running Dogs)
This passage was quoted in the Report to the Tenth National Congress of the Chinese Party in 1973. But in his interview in The Call, May 31,1976, Klonsky declares:
“A few years ago, it was correct to say that ’revolution is the main trend in the world today’. Now this statement is no longer fully complete or applicable to the present conditions. Today both the factors for war and revolution are developing together. By saying that both factors are developing together, we are clearly emphasizing the growing danger of a war. In this way, we take note of the changes since 1970 and help people get prepared.”
Klonsky’s statement is that of a frightened philistine. To him the deepening crises and turbulent conflicts of the imperialist system which lead to war do not also lead to the outbreak of revolution. Instead, he claims that the growing danger of world war has liquidated revolution as the main trend in the world. We suppose that the outbreak of the reactionary imperialist World War I also prevented revolution rather than, as Stalin teaches: “gathered all these contradictions into a single knot and threw them on to the scales, thereby accelerating and facilitating the revolutionary battles of the proletariat.” (Foundations of Leninism)
If Lenin had followed Klonsky’s logic, he would never have led the October Revolution. In fact, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought teaches that the present era, “the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution”, (Foundations of Leninism) is an era of imperialist wars and proletarian revolutions, the era in which the imperialist system is being consumed in the fires of world proletarian socialist revolution. The approach of world war means the heightening of all the contradictions of imperialism, it means the approach of resolution. As Chairman Mao has pointed out:
“The First World War was followed by the birth of the Soviet Union with a population of 200 million. The Second World War was followed by the emergence of the socialist camp with a combined population of 900 million. If the imperialists insist on launching a third world war, it i s certain that several hundred million more will turn to socialism, and then there will not be much room left on earth for the imperialists; it is also likely that the whole structure of imperialism will utterly collapse.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People)
Despite the degeneration of the Soviet Union into a social-imperialist superpower since Chairman Mao made this statement in 1957, his words ring true today as well. Klonsky is dreaming of a “peaceful transition to socialism”, a “revolution” without stormy conflicts, violence, bloodshed and bitter self-sacrifice. Such a revolution has never existed and never will. In fact there is no essential difference between Klonsky’s line and that of the renegade Khrushchov, who babbled that “A single spark can start a conflagration” and demanded that the oppressed nations and peoples give up their revolutionary struggles and lay down their arms for fear of starting a world war. Both Klonsky and Khrushchov denied revolution out of fear of the stormy class struggle. They are like the frightened sparrow in Chairman Mao’s poem who, seeing “The world being turned upside down” by the revolutionary masses, chirped: “0 I want to flit and fly away ... To a jewelled palace in elfland’s hills . .. There’ll be plenty to eat, potatoes piping hot with beef thrown in.” (Reprinted from Peking Review, January 2, 1976) (This reference to Khrushchov’s goulash communism was echoed recently by OL leader Sherman Miller, who declared that revolution is “permanent bread and butter”. In answering an objection that OL is not sufficiently concerned with bread and butter, Miller declared: “We are for bread and butter, too, but we are for permanent bread and butter, for revolution.” (The Call, December 1975) Frightened by war, the OL wants goulash – permanent goulash. This is the Khrushchovite revisionism.)
What attitude should the Marxist-Leninists take towards the growing war danger? Chairman Mao defined the attitude of Marxist-Leninists towards the possibility of world war:
’With regard to the question of world war, there are but two possibilities: One is that the war will give rise to revolution and the other is that revolution will prevent the war.” (Quoted in the Report to the Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, adopted April 14, 1969.)
Lenin showed long ago that in the event of an imperialist war, the proletariat of an imperialist country must prepare to wage a civil war to overthrow “its own” bourgeoisie. Do Klonsky and the OL follow this Leninist line? Quite the opposite. They oppose social revolution as the means to prevent the war or to oppose the war if it comes. Frightened by the war danger, the OL leaders take refuge at the feet of U.S. imperialists and call on the American workers to unite with the U.S. bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie of the Soviet Union. Thus the OL attempts to liquidate the cause of the proletarian revolution in the U.S. and helps prepare conditions for a reactionary world war between the superpowers.
In his above-mentioned interview, Klonsky declares that the U. S. Marxist-Leninists and proletariat must direct their “main blow” at the U.S.S.R. He presents this as follows:
“Call: What does it mean for us to direct our main blow at the U.S.S.R.?
MK: It means that through our propaganda we must work even harder to expose the aggressive imperialist nature of the Soviet Union, to show that it is a capitalist dictatorship, a fascist dictatorship of the Hitler type. Secondly, we must expose and work to smash the revisionist Communist Party USA, which is nothing but a reactionary ’fifth column’ of the Soviet Union. We must intensify our exposures of this party and show it for what it is – an imperialist party – and not a communist party at all.
“It also means that we must firmly oppose those in the U.S. who appease or conciliate to Soviet social-imperialism and who thereby bring on the war that much sooner.” (Obviously Klonsky has given quite a bit of thought to “directing our main blow” at another imperialist power.)
And in an article on the editorial page of The Call entitled “Hinton’s Folly – A ’Neutral’ U.S. Imperialism” (The Call, August 2, 1976), the OL writes:
“The correct policy is to build the international united front against imperialism headed by both superpowers. In the course of building this united front, it is also correct and essential to deal the main blow at the Soviet Union ... In order to expose the Soviet Union and strengthen vigilance against it, we must deal it the main blow.”
Klonsky and the OL themselves admit that a reactionary inter-imperialist world war is the kind of war which is brewing. Phrases are tossed out about overthrowing one’s “own” bourgeoisie, turning imperialist war into civil war, etc. Then where is the justification for the line of directing the “main blow” at the U.S.S.R.?
In fact, Klonsky’s capitulation to U.S. imperialism is not really any different from the stands of his class brothers, the Chinese capitalist-roaders. Lin Piao was a superspy for Soviet social-imperialism. Teng Hsiao-ping also capitulated to the superpowers, as shown by the regret the U.S. imperialists and Soviet social-imperialists displayed at his overthrow. All revisionists invariably lie down before the “powerful” imperialists.
The extent to which the October League has pledged allegiance to U.S. imperialism can be seen by the fact that it is actually printing its publications (The Call, May 1st issue, 1976 and Class Struggle, Spring-Summer 1976), including woodcuts of Comrades Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Chairman Mao – in red, white and blue, the colors of the flag of rabid American chauvinism and imperialism! Since every genuine revolutionary hates the U.S. imperialist flag, this cannot be regarded as accidental. This is what we mean by kissing the feet of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie.
Another glaring example of the OL’s basic social-chauvinist, class-capitulationist line is Klonsky’s call for U. S. Marxist-Leninists to give up the struggle against the revisionist “Communist” Party USA in order to direct “the main fire” of their anti-revisionist two-line struggle against the “Communist” Party of the Soviet Union. Klonsky states (second part of the same interview. The Call, June 7, 1976):
“The revisionist center is in Moscow. That is where the main fire of Marxist-Leninists must be directed today. At the 25th Congress of the CPSU, Brezhnev paraded the revisionist leaders from Cuba, Portugal and other countries before the podium to attack the Chinese and the Marxist-Leninists of every country. His objective was to divert the fire off himself onto these smaller revisionist parties. While attacking revisionism everywhere, our main fire should be directed at the biggest traitors, the Soviet revisionists.”
This, too, means liquidation of social revolution in the U.S. While Moscow is the center of world revisionism, the “main fire” of the U.S. Marxist-Leninists must be aimed at the concrete manifestations of revisionism in the U.S., the “CPUSA (and the OL and others), which protect the U.S. bourgeoisie and stand in the way of the proletarian revolution in the U.S. Klonsky’s line liquidates the struggle against revisionism by making it into a mere abstraction. This, too, helps tie the proletariat to the bourgeoisie in its preparations for aggressive war.
The OL’s alliance with the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie can be seen in the report of an OL Central Committee meeting. In it the OL leaders speak as if they are in an alliance with the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie, as was the case with the Communist Party in the Antifascist Second World War. The report said:
“The CentraI Committee noted that the present rapidly-changing world situation is likely to develop by way of further twists and still unpredictable turns, and underscored the importance for Marxist-Leninists of maintaining the revolutionary initiative and independence from the bourgeoisie.”
In the present conditions, to speak of “initiative and independence” in the relations between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, rather than revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie, is clearly to call for an alliance with the bourgeoisie. And for a “socialist” to call for an alliance with the imperialist bourgeoisie in an imperialist war, or in preparations for it, is to be a social-chauvinist. No matter how much it wriggles, the October League cannot escape from the fact that its basic line of directing the “main blow” of the U.S. proletariat at the U.S.S.R. is a social-chauvinist line of class betrayal. It serves the same objective as the war preparations of the U.S. imperialists, particularly the Democratic Party headed by Carter, who are employing deception to gain the “confidence” of the workers so that they will give up revolution in the U.S. and kill their fellow workers for the profits of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie. OL’s social-chauvinist line is anti-Marxist-Leninist. It stands in direct opposition to the Marxist-Leninist, proletarian internationalist line of the Central Organization of U.S. Marxist-Leninists. The COUSML practices complete opposition to, and resolute struggle against, “our own” bourgeoisie and for supporting all revolutionary struggles against it, so as to oppose its war preparations and, in the case of an imperialist war, to utilize the bourgeoisie’s war-time predicament to intensify preparations to launch a civil war to overthrow it completely. This is the only communist line.
The OL’s social-chauvinism in the face of the war danger is only a natural outgrowth out of their neo-revisionist line on class struggle and proletarian revolution in the U. S. In its basic documents and its handling of such major events as Watergate, OL’s class capitulationism is clear. Under the banner of a “united front against imperialism”, the OL denies that the proletariat is the main force in the U.S. revolution, thus denying the revolutionary role of the proletariat and the proletarian socialist character of the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. For years the OL has been advocating “independence and initiative” of the proletariat in a united front with one section of the monopoly bourgeoisie against another. Under the conditions of a developed monopoly capitalist country such as the U.S., OL’s line amounts to outright capitulation to the bourgeoisie, liquidating revolution by tying the proletariat to the apron-strings of the monopoly capitalist class.
The October League has always advocated a “united front against imperialism” as the “strategy” or “vehicle” for revolution in the United States. In OL’s version of this “united front”, the proletariat is invariably declared to be the leading force but never the main force, just as if the U.S. revolution were a revolution in a colony or semi-colony where capitalism was not fully developed and the proletariat was still a small minority of the population, while the peasantry would be the main force of the revolution. Thus, in the November “unity” call, the OL declares:
“In the U. S. the united front includes all those that can be united under the leader ship of the proletariat with the national movements of the oppressed peoples struggling for liberation, self-determination and democratic rights.”
Thus the role of the proletariat (which, incidentally, composes the vast majority of the people of the oppressed nationalities) is described 1) as the leading force of revolution, and 2) as the “core” of the united front (together with the oppressed nationalities, which are composed of other classes as well), but never as the main force of the revolution. This amounts to denying the revolutionary role of the proletariat in the U.S. and the proletarian socialist character of the revolution. In fact, the U.S. has one of the most developed industries in the world; the industrial proletariat is huge and the working class as a whole is a large majority of the population. But the O L leaves the role of main force of the revolution to other, unnamed classes.
Further, in reducing the role of the proletariat (of all nationalities) to that of merely a part of a “core”, and lumping it together in this “core” with the non-proletarian classes which form a small section of the oppressed nationalities, the OL ludicrously describes as the “core” the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population. Picture an apple with a core four inches thick with a quarter inch of body around it and you will see what a distortion OL’s concept of “core” amounts to.
The OL is aware that Chairman Mao frequently spoke of the role of “the core” (presumably this is where the OL leaders snatched the idea). But in speaking of “the core” Chairman Mao was not referring to the role of the proletariat or of any sort of class alliance, but of the Party of the proletariat itself. He wrote:
“The force at the core leading our cause forward is the Chinese Communist Party”(Opening Address at the First Session of the First National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, September 15, 1954); and
“The Chinese Communist Party is the Core of Leadership of the whole Chinese people.” (Talk at the general reception for the delegates to the Third National Congress of the New-Democratic Youth League of China, May 25, 1957)
Thus OL’s use of the concept “core” is incredibly muddled, mixing together the role of the proletariat as the main force in the U.S. revolution with the role of the Party itself as the “core of leadership” of revolution, thus managing to liquidate both in one breath. Quite a feat!
As far as the question of ”merger” is concerned, Chairman Mao says that:
“The struggle of the black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.”(1968 Afro-American Statement)
This can in no way be interpreted as denying the role of the working class as the main force in the U.S. proletarian socialist revolution.
Thus OL’s crucial documents describe a “united front against imperialism” whose class alliance in fact liquidates the revolutionary role of the working class and proletarian socialist character of the U.S. revolution as a whole. No Marxist-Leninist can support such a line. (All of Klonsky’s and OL’s talk about the principal contradiction in the U.S. being that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is only the typical talk of revisionists to gloss over their class betrayal with nice-sounding words.)
This is a basic line of neo-revisionism. Let us look at how the October League describes this class alliance, this “united front against imperialism”, in action, how it describes the role to be played by the proletariat in the revolutionary struggle. Here Klonsky and October League leadership can never stop blurting out the truth of their neo-revisionist class capitulation. The basic line they continuously repeat is that the role of the working class in the U.S. is to have “independence and initiative” from the bourgeoisie and that it should not “rely on” the bourgeoisie. These terms are applied only when one has in mind a united front with the bourgeoisie or a section of it. The October League’s thesis of “independence and initiative” from, and not “relying on”, the bourgeoisie under U.S. conditions simply means a reactionary alliance with one section of the monopoly bourgeoisie against another (or with the U.S. bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie of other countries). Such a struggle sacrifices the cause of the workers for the bourgeoisie’s interests. Thus the OL’s basic line is to tie the proletariat to the apron-strings of the bourgeoisie and liquidate its revolution altogether. Its “united front against imperialism” is therefore in fact a united front with imperialism – either with one section of the imperialist bourgeoisie, or, at present, with the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie against the Russians.
Let us see how the OL presents this class capitulation ism. In the very first issue of The Call, in the October 1972 issue, in an article called “Should We Support McGovern?”, the OL leaders called on the anti-war movement not to “rely on” the Nixon or McGovern groups of capitalist politicians and said that the people “must keep the initiative in their own hands” in order to successfully struggle against the U.S. imperialist war of aggression against Viet Nam. (At that time the ACWM(M-L) ran a campaign calling on the masses: “Don’t vote – they’re all the same!”, sharply opposing the entire monopoly capitalist class including the imperialist pacifism of McGovern, who was merely preparing the ground for U.S. imperialism to wage new wars.)
OL’s capitulationist line was more fully revealed in the next issue of The Call. Regarding “inter-capitalist contradictions” such as those between McGovern and Nixon in the 1972 election, they quote Chairman Mao in Tactics Against Japanese Imperialism where he writes about seizing the opportunity to:
“... turn to good account all such fights, rifts and contradictions in the enemy camp and turn them against our present main enemy.” (OL leaves out the word “present”) The OL then adds:
“This means that at times we most certainly would participate in capitalist elections in order to utilize such rifts and fights, even at times supporting one capitalist party against another.”
Thus, what OL is saying is that one of the two capitalist parties in the bourgeois election s may be the “main enemy”. OL’s conclusion is based on a mechanical misapplication (and misquoting) of Chairman Mao’s statements. When Chairman Mao spoke of “our present main enemy”, he was writing about conditions of a semi-colonial country, China, which was then threatened with outright colonialism by the Japanese invasion. As a result, the Japanese imperialists and the clique of Chinese reactionaries allied with Japan became the “present main enemy” or target of the Chinese people, while the other imperialists and their comprador cliques receded temporarily into a secondary position and the rifts between them and the Japanese collaborators could be utilized for the revolution. But the United States is a highly developed imperialist superpower. It is class capitulationism to declare that one section or another of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class is “present main enemy” and that one can “support one capitalist party against the other”. The entire monopoly capitalist class is the target of the revolution.
OL’s basic line of alliance with one section of the U.S. monopoly bourgeoisie against another was demonstrated most clearly by their attitude to Watergate. In the Watergate crisis, OL gave the call “Dump Nixon – Stop the Fascist Tide!” and organized for the proletariat to back the “liberal” bourgeoisie. They described Watergate as a big development of fascism, when in reality it was a dogfight among the bourgeoisie, in the course of which a tiny fraction of the fascist activities of the “conservative” section of the bourgeoisie (equalled by the “liberals”) was revealed by the “liberals” in order to mobilize the people to support one side against the other. In fact the monopoly capitalists at the time of Watergate were faced with economic difficulties and the necessity to prepare for war with Soviet social-imperialism. Due to their crimes against the Indochinese people and against the American people’s mass movements, Nixon and the open fascists were too exposed in the eyes of the masses to perform this task well. A section of monopoly capital saw the need to remove them and replace them with the “liberals” and social-democrats of the Democratic Party, masters of political deception, capable of hiding their fascism under demagogic “left” and “pro-labor” phrases so as to deceive the workers and oppressed people. This process is continuing with the recent resurgence of the Democratic Party. In addition, the monopoly capitalists wanted to end the open rift in their ranks quickly, lest the fascist character of the “liberals” be revealed by the supporters of Nixon. The line of the “liberal” bourgeoisie was that Nixon was the issue, not fascism.
The OL went blindly along with the reactionary tide of the “liberal” bourgeoisie and worked to enlist the masses to “Dump Nixon” as quickly as possible. To cover up its betrayal of the proletariat, OL babbled continuously about “independence and initiative” of the proletariat, “developing the fighting capacity” of the working class and people, not “relying on” Congress, etc., etc. Let us look more closely at this.
In the August 1973 Call, in an article “Kennedy Fronts for Wallace, Tapes Will Reveal Nixon’s Fascist Role”, the OL admitted that the activities of Nixon against his political opponents, revealed in Watergate, represented a contradiction among the bourgeoisie. Yet the OL said these activities have created “the basis for the broadest people’s movement yet” (our emphasis – ed.) The OL went on to complain that “the struggle has been confined to the ranks of the politicians with the masses of people playing the role of spectators in front of their TV’s, etc.” The article added: “relying on Kennedy and the Democratic Party is no way to fight Watergate.” So clearly OL’s basic line was to fight “Watergate”, i.e., one section of the bourgeoisie, and not the whole bourgeoisie, in other words, to serve the interests of the “liberal” bourgeoisie.
At its Second “Labor” Conference, in November, 1973,OL raised the slogan “Dump Nixon – Stop the Fascist Tide!”. Klonsky commented that “while maintaining their independence and initiative”, “the communists cannot stand on the sidelines of this important anti-fascist struggle.” (The Call, December 1973) A Call editorial in the same issue said:
“While playing a leading role in the struggle to dump Nixon and stop the fascist offensive, the revolutionary forces have a special responsibility within this struggle. This responsibility is to fight for working class leadership and to raise the level of consciousness and fighting capacity of the masses of people.” Hence OL’s concern at the time was simply that the masses were not sufficiently drawn into the bourgeoisie’s fight. They went on to say:
”The real issue is the stemming of the fascist offensive which Nixon has launched against the working and oppressed people as well as his own capitalist political opponents.”
Thus OL was admittedly out to defend Nixon’s “capitalist political opponents”, the “liberal” bourgeoisie! This is a real admission of how the OL went along with the main current among the bourgeoisie and tried to tie the proletariat to its apron-strings. In a lead article in the February 1974 Call, OL made its famous complaint that Congress stands “paralyzed”. Speaking of their “Dump Nixon!” demonstrations, they wrote:
“By setting a tone of militant action and united front participation, these demonstrations will bring the question of the political struggle against Nixon’s anti-people policies into the hands of the people them selves and will take the initiative out of the hands of the liberal politicians and their ’left’ supporters who stand paralyzed for fear of hurting the ’unity of the nation’.” Jilted by the “liberals”, the OL sings a song of unrequited love.
When Nixon was dumped in August 1974, and OL’s slogan had been carried out by the bourgeoisie, the OL was put in an embarrassing position. Did “dumping” Nixon “stop the fascist tide”, as the OL had claimed it would, or not? Let the OL leaders answer. On the one hand, the OL wrote (The Call, September 1974):
“The divisions within the ruling class which led to Nixon’s resignation have never been over the real questions which confront the majority of the people. They fight over what is best for capitalism. Democracy exists in this country within the limits of this question and only for the capitalists themselves. It was only when Nixon was exposed for his violations of this capitalist code of ethics that the majority of the ruling class felt that he weakened their system too much to continue on as president.” And after speaking of “the rising tide of fascism” (our emphasis – ed.), the OL leaders orate:
“Have the basic conditions of inflation, war and increasing impoverishment of the millions of poor and working people in this country changed or will they change with the departure of Nixon? No! Will Nixon’s leaving mean a government assault against discrimination of minorities and for full democratic rights to all people? No!” (Thank you for this useful information, Mr. Klonsky.)
Thus, according to the OL itself, Nixon was dumped by the bourgeoisie in order to strengthen its hand. But on the other hand, the OL finds the “justification” for its line in the following:
“The resignation of Nixon did objectively weaken the capitalist offensive and therefore must be seen as a concession by the ruling class and a victory for the people’s cause.”
Here the OL is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Having said that “dumping” Nixon would “stop the fascist tide”, they then admit that it strengthened the bourgeoisie and that the “tide” of fascism is “rising”. But at the same time they claim it was a “concession” to the masses. And after Nixon’s “dumping” the OL promptly forgot its admonition about the “rising tide of fascism” and has long since abandoned any talk about “stopping” any such “tide” at all. Today the bourgeoisie is flaunting the fact that the FBI and CIA are still carrying out their fascist activities, the all-round fascization of U. S. society has actually been stepped up, and all this has a more deceptive/liberal” cover than Nixon could give it.
Thus, as soon as the “liberal” bourgeoisie had achieved its ends and gotten Nixon out, the OL stopped its “fight” against the “fascist tide” and forgot the whole affair. This exposes clearly the fact that the OL leaders were not interested in fighting the fascism of the monopoly bourgeoisie, represented in part by Nixon, but merely in doing the “liberals” bidding in “dumping” Nixon. To the OL, as to the “liberals”, “fascism” meant “Nixon” and nothing else, so once Nixon was gone, fascism too was supposed to be eliminated. Chairman Mao wrote in his May 20, 1970 statement that .. the fascist rule in the United States will inevitably be defeated.” The OL believes this took place with the dumping of Nixon. Thus, in their eyes, not only is fascism gone, but the “liberal” bourgeoisie is an anti-fascist force!
The only difference between the OL line on Watergate (“Dump Nixon – Stop the Fascist Tide!”) and the line of the revisionist “Communist” Party USA and “Communist” League (“New Elections”) (and that of the “liberal” bourgeoisie itself – impeachment) was a difference on tactics. OL favored a more militant reformism, drawing the masses into action in the streets for the bourgeoisie, while “CPUSA and “C”L were content to let the “liberals” carry the ball alone. Thus Watergate revealed OL’s class capitulationism fully. The OL tried to use the masses ’just hatred for Nixon’s fascism to serve the dogfights of the bourgeoisie. A correct policy would have been to utilize this hatred to expose the whole bourgeoisie, especially combatting the trend of the “liberals”. The COUSML alone upheld the correct line of exposing and condemning the entire monopoly bourgeoisie in Watergate, exposing the tactics of both sections.
Hence the OL’s class capitulationist line on Watergate assisted the “liberal” bourgeoisie in its dogfight against its rivals and aided the overall development of fascism and war preparations by U.S. imperialism.
The OL’s class capitulationist line has continued to present. In its January 1976 New Year’s Statement (The Call, January 76) the OL wrote: “The U.S. imperialist ruling class is torn by internal contradictions. All tendencies within it are reactionary and antagonistic to the interests of the workers and oppressed minorities. A definite fascist tendency within the big bourgeoisie exists and is the chief financial and political prop of the revived segregationist agitation . . . Revolutionaries should continue to make use of the internal contradictions between imperialist factions, strengthen their independence and initiative and take the lead in combatting segregationist and other fascist moves.” Thus OL should “take the lead” away from the “liberal” bourgeoisie in a supposedly common struggle against “segregationist and other fascist moves”.
Or take OL’s attitude towards the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill, which the June 24,1976, Workers’ Advocate exposed as an attack on the working class by the “friends of labor”. The Humphrey-Hawkins Bill would impose forced labor on welfare and unemployment compensation recipients at minimum wages, would prepare conditions for wage-price controls and would further fascize the trade union apparatus by bringing the labor bureaucrats into a “national economic planning” apparatus with the bourgeoisie and its state to “coordinate” production and wages, etc. But the OL regards the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill not as a fascist attack on the workers but as a mere “fraud”, “an effort to sidetrack the people’s anger”, having “no teeth in it”. The OL declares that its “National Fight Back Organization” “has relied on militant actions to demand jobs from the capitalists, rather than relying on the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill or other legislation” (May 24, 1976, The Call). (Perhaps the OL is demanding some “teeth” be added to this vicious bill . . .)
Thus the October League betrays the revolutionary class struggle of the U.S. working class against the monopoly capitalist class and tries to tie it to the apron-strings of one monopoly capitalist faction against another. It seems that OL’s “united front against imperialism”, which it defends as a united front against monopoly capitalism (since imperialism is monopoly capitalism), turns out to be merely a deceptive phrase hiding an alliance with the bourgeoisie (within which they have “independence and initiative” of course). This is class capitulationism.
* * *
All Marxist-Leninists should resolutely uphold Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, learn from the negative example of the October League and resolutely oppose opportunism.