First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 25, June 27, 1977.
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.
The unanimous approval of the Program of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) at its Founding Congress was a reflection of the high level of unity achieved through a process of widespread discussion and struggle in the Party’s ranks.
The Draft Program went through a process of several “ups and downs” as various drafts were submitted to the rank-and-file cadre, Party supporters and the masses for criticism before its final adoption on June 4. By concentrating these criticisms and suggestions, the Congress was able to strengthen the Program and the political line of the Party.
For example, many discussions were held before and at the Congress about the Program’s criticism of revisionism and the revisionist Communist Party U.S.A. While overall this was one of the Draft Program’s strongest features, one of its formulations was shown to be incorrect.
The Draft Program said the CPUSA “degenerated” into a revisionist, social-fascist party. But the Congress pointed out that this characterization of “degeneration” failed to show how the Party was taken over and destroyed from within by a handful of capitalist agents and then used as a social-imperialist party to promote counter-revolution in the workers’ movement.
The theory of “gradual degeneration” incorrectly views the Party’s history in an undialectical and metaphysical way and portrays its transformation into a revisionist party as a continual, downhill process since its birth. In reality, the history of the CPUSA is a history of sharp two-line struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism.
This struggle always existed within the Party and reflected the class struggle in society. Like all class struggles, it proceeded unevenly with many twists and turns. First Browderism and then the Gus Hall clique took over the CPUSA and purged many of the real communists from the ranks of the Party. But the destruction of the Party was not “inevitable” as some may claim. While “degeneration” did take place, it was under the leadership of the Browder and Hall revisionists, although it was helped at times by the mistakes of the Marxist-Leninists.
Drawing correct lessons from this history is a life-and-death question for the new Communist Party. As CP (M-L) Chairman Michael Klonsky pointed out in his Political Report to the Founding Congress: “We must take the fight against revisionism seriously into account in all of our work. It is the number one enemy within our ranks . . . our movement has always had a two-line struggle, a struggle that still has not been finally decided and won’t be for many years to come. It will last as long as class society lasts, even for a long period after the socialist revolution.”
As a result of this struggle, the Program was changed to consistently reflect a correct analysis of the destruction of the CPUSA by the modern revisionists as well as of the founding and reconstruction of the Party this year by the genuine Marxist-Leninists.
The trade union section of the Program was also strengthened through the course of discussion and struggle in the pre-Congress period. Initially, the Draft Program had not contained a criticism of syndicalism, nor had it contained an explanation of the role of the trade unions under socialism.
The syndicalist line, which at various times in the history of the American trade union movement has been an influential one, actually liquidates the working-class struggle for political power. It reduces the movement simply to a struggle for control of the factories through the general strike. This line also liquidates the need for a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party.
Historically, this incorrect view has emerged in the U.S. workers’ movement in such forms as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and more recently, in struggles such as the Revolutionary Union Movement among auto workers in Detroit.
A statement on the role of the trade unions under socialism was also added to the Program. It pointed out that the trade unions will serve “as schools of communism and as schools for training workers to manage production and advance socialist construction.” This shows their role in aiding workers to correctly “grasp revolution” and at the same time “promote production.” The trade union section was also strengthened to expose the role of today’s labor bureaucracy in the counterrevolutionary activities in the workers’ movement around the world.
In the discussions of the Program section on the national question, a high level of unity was achieved on the Program’s Marxist-Leninist line and its critique of the chauvinist liquidation of the national question by the revisionists and opportunists. This section was strengthened to include more on the particular history of oppression and struggle of the various nationalities as well as adding a statement on the Party’s support for the struggles of immigrant workers.
The section was also changed to reflect the united front character of all the national movements, because the Draft had only related this question to the Afro-American struggle. The Program points out, “National oppression affects all the classes within an oppressed nationality, to a greater or lesser extent.” It goes on to point out that within the national movements, the proletariat must play the leading role and “wage a consistent struggle against the bourgeois elements who attempt to divert the national movements with reformism and divisiveness.”
The Program’s section on the woman question was also strengthened to more strongly emphasize the need to struggle against the trade union bureaucrats who promote male chauvinism and feminism in their role as the bosses’ agents within the workers’ movement. The bureaucrats use these reactionary ideas and practices to divide and weaken the entire workers’ movement and to keep women backward and isolated from the class struggle. In this discussion, many examples were given of the bureaucrats’ sabotage of the women’s struggles for equality, including their opposition to compensative seniority for women workers in heavy industry, their failure to organize the masses of women workers and in some cases, their promotion of feminism. This behavior was exemplified by the bureaucrats who led the formation of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW).
The youth section of the Party Program was also discussed and strengthened in the context of the Party’s firm commitment to build a powerful revolutionary movement among the youth, especially the Communist Youth Organization. In this section a statement on the particular oppression of minority youth was added.
In addition, this statement on the CYO was developed to include its characterization as an organization that serves as an “arm and reserve” of the Party, while also “maintaining its own organizational independence.” This reflects the Party’s understanding that it must give the youth movement leadership, while at the same time allowing the young people to develop their revolutionary understanding through their own experiences in struggle and organization.
These examples provide a good insight into the type of discussion and struggle that led up to the formation of the CP (M-L) and the adoption of its Program. They show that the final draft of the Program was a product of the broadest possible application of the mass line “from the masses to the masses” and as such is the most advanced and concise expression of the new Party’s Marxist-Leninist line.
The Program is now in the final stages of production and, along with the Constitution and the Political Report to the Founding Congress, will soon be available for mass distribution.