First Published: The Call, Vol. 4, No. 2, November 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The purpose of this paper is to call on the genuine Marxist-Leninist forces in the U.S. to unite and build a new communist party. Its conclusions represent the views of the October League which were adopted by our full national Congress in June. The main conclusions of this paper are that: 1) party building has become a question of immediacy and 2) the present period calls for the actual organizational formation of the new party. We hope that this paper will find its way to welcome hands throughout our movement and that it can serve as the basis for concrete discussion leading to Marxist-Leninist unity.
The past period, beginning in the late 60s has seen the rise and growth of the young communist movement and more recently, its growing ties to the mass movement of workers and oppressed people. From its very beginnings to the present time, this movement has viewed party building as central among its many tasks. The October League, for one, has been consistent and clear in its stand on party-building against those who tried (and still try) to liquidate this task from the “left” and the right, who have insisted on maintaining the backward state of the movement of the working class and the mass movement. In our May 1972 Unity Statement, the OL placed the task squarely before the movement:
Recognizing the historic truth that if there is to be a revolution there must be a revolutionary party, the creation of a new communist party–one of the Leninist type–has become the principal task for all communists in the U.S. Given the total degeneration of the CPUSA, the developing struggles of the working class and its allies have been restricted to simply attempting to reform this rotten imperialist system. Under the leadership of a genuine communist party, the masses themselves can understand through their own experiences the necessity of smashing the existing order and to direct their struggles toward the final aim of socialism.
At that time, three years ago, our understanding was still superficial, but the urgency of our cause has been clearly brought home to us during this period of all-out decay and capitalist crisis. Millions of workers have been thrown out onto the streets to starve or somehow survive as best they can. With the increased efforts of the bourgeoisie to shift the burden of their crisis onto the backs of the masses, millions more have been forced into a life-or-death battle against the rule of the giant monopolies. The anti-imperialist united front is surging forward and the revolutionary situation around the world is growing brighter and brighter. This situation demonstrates more clearly the need for conscious leadership to give political direction to this spontaneous upsurge.
We are living in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, in a period characterized by the sharpening of all the basic contradictions in the world. The factors for both revolution and war are increasing. Comrade Chou En-lai said it is “one characterized by great disorder on earth.” In this period, the old revisionist parties such as the CPUSA have not only shown themselves incapable of giving revolutionary leadership to the mass upsurge, but have proven to be out-and-out traitors to the working class and have gone over to the side of counter-revolution and social-fascism.
It was primarily in struggle against the forces of modern revisionism that the young communist movement was born. Modern revisionism, with its opportunist line of parliamentary struggle and following the road of least resistance, is now and will continue to be the main strategic enemy within the ranks of the working class movement. Usurping the name of the once-proud party of the U.S. proletariat, the CPUSA revisionists have turned from a party of revolution into a parrot for the fraud of imperialist “detente” throughout the world. While acting as the lap dog for the Soviet social-imperialists, they have also served as apologizers for the labor aristocracy and the liberal bourgeoisie here at home. There can be no reconciliation with the revisionists. They are not a “misled” group of “honest” opportunists, but a most vicious enemy of Marxism-Leninism and the working class. The CPUSA must be smashed, their influence isolated and their treachery exposed.
Modern revisionism is a consolidated trend, a counter-current in the history of Marxism, which has broken from the communist movement. It has an organizational form with revisionist parties in many countries and state power and a center in the Soviet Union. The struggle against this modem revisionist trend has produced new parties and pre-party organizations throughout the world, fighting for unity and clarity to provide the working class and oppressed peoples with the leadership it needs. Inspired by the principled stand of the People’s Republic of China and Albania against the Soviet revisionists and by the rapid advances of the world revolutionary struggle, our movement is gaining new strength and growing large.
Ours is a heroic cause. If we fail, the working class movement could be smashed under the heel of fascism and world war. But we will not fail. The efforts of the young communist movement in the U.S. will lead to the decisive overthrow of the dictatorship of monopoly capitalism and the victory of revolution and socialism.
The conditions for the birth of the new party are already present. The early period, marked by the rise of communist collectives, study circles and local groups has drawn to a close. A number of national communist pre-party organizations have replaced them, representing a general trend within the young communist movement. Through the struggle against revisionism, and in our work during this pre-party period, other opportunist trends have been consolidated, exposed and driven from the ranks of this young movement–aliens to Marxism-Leninism. This fight against Trotskyism, anarchism, syndicalism and ultra-“leftism” in general, has also strengthened the movement and set the ideological basis for the formation of the new party.
The significant ideological struggles during the past three years have developed the subjective conditions calling forth the need for a new party, more in line with the objective factors. This period has produced important victories in the ideological war against petty-bourgeois ultra-“leftism” which for a long time posed the main internal threat within the ranks of the young communist movement.
The OL developed in the struggle against petty-bourgeois “left” deviations from Marxism along with the fight against right opportunism or revisionism. In a series of articles (“Party Building in the U.S.”) we traced the class character of this “left” deviation–a petty bourgeois reaction to revisionism, reflecting the outlook of newcomers to the working class movement. At that time we warned that if allowed to grow unchecked, this ultra-“leftist” trend would merge with modern revisionism (and its chauvinism and class collaborationism) and destroy our attempts to build a party. Until this struggle was consolidated, no party could be established. While this “left” deviation could be found in all of the young communist organizations, it gained leadership and consolidated itself most notably in two–the Communist League (now the so-called “Communist Labor Party”) and the Revolutionary Union (now the so-called “Revolutionary Communist Party”).
A relentless struggle against both CL and RU has crippled the enemy’s efforts to destroy our movement from within (from the “left”). The sham “congress” of CL’s ended in dismal failure. Isolated and exposed, the new so-called Communist Labor Party has been forced into a rapid retreat and has disappeared from view. Their anti-China line, echoing Moscow’s call for “detente” and their attacks on the Third World could find little support here among the conscious sections of the revolutionary movement. Exposed as an anti-Marxist deviation within our ranks, the CLP has dropped its mask and has made their last appeal to the lowest level common denominator politics of reformism and economism.
Another example of the rightist essence of the ultra-“leftists” is the RU which has now changed their name to “RCP” as a last desperate act, reflecting only their isolation and weakened position. Their line, also masked with Marxist rhetoric, puts forth policies of chauvinism and opportunism that every Marxist-Leninist group must oppose. Social practice has been the crucible in which RCP’s opportunist line has been tested and exposed for what it is–revisionism in a left disguise. Its stand in opposition to the democratic rights of Black people in Boston and elsewhere and its divisive stand towards the Third World struggle in general have been exposed by the OL and others.
In response to the ideological blows dealt to the left opportunists, the rightist influences were bound to gain new strength. The negative influences of the RU and CL served as a sounding board for those who wish to attack Marxism-Leninism and the party from the right and re-emerge on the scene. Within certain sections of the movement we are hearing new appeals to legalism, electoral cretinism and narrow nationalism. A line of “centrism” in relation to the Soviet Union and the split in the international movement is being openly promoted by the so-called “independents” and circles especially around the Guardian newspaper. New theories of “American exceptionalism” are searching for welcome ears as are new efforts at conciliation and “united action” with the modern revisionists on the national and international scene.
To summarize, then, both right and left opportunism must be fought relentlessly and broken with cleanly. While yesterday the “left” danger might have appeared strongest within our ranks, today the rightist influences are re-emerging on the scene. We must always be vigilant against all forms of opportunism and never block with one in unprincipled fashion to oppose the other. We must also strengthen our spirit of “going against the reactionary tide”–maintain a principled stand in the face of difficulty and always oppose taking the road of least resistance.
Most importantly, the ideological struggle against “left” and right opportunism has served to raise the theoretical level of our movement qualitatively. This has better prepared our forces for the task of vanguard of the working class. The pre-party period was characterized by the restating of the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism and fundamental study. But the ideological leap over the last three years is one of the main reasons we can confidently call for the formation of the party against these pessimists who generalize their own political confusion and claim that our movement is “too backward” for such a step.
Our pessimists are discouraged at the difficulty of the ideological struggle. They are afraid of going against the revisionist tide and want to conciliate with the CPUSA in order to “increase our numbers.” To them Marxism-Leninism is “sectarian” and they much prefer revisionism or nationalism with which they hope to “get-rich-quick” within the mass movement. They glorify the revisionists and the nationalists for their numbers while casting aside the millions of working people and the need to educate them in the science of Marxism-Leninism.
But the growth and development of the young communist movement among the workers and oppressed minorities throughout the country expose the lies of the pessimists who have never believed in the ability of a poor factory worker to learn Marxism.
The undeniable fact is the Marxist-Leninists are increasingly playing an influential role in the present fight-back against the crisis, mobilizing and influencing many class-conscious workers and oppressed minority fighters. Under communist leadership a significant number of workers have joined the various fight-back organizations and through them have been recruited to the communist movement and into its leadership.
While there is still much work to be done in deepening these ties, work which can of course best be carried out under the guidance of a party, the growth in this area of work exposes the anti-party forces as defeatists and anti-worker elements. The communist movement has also developed as a multi-national movement, a major advance over the primitive organizational forms of the 60s based almost–entirely along national lines. While the “independents” and the narrow nationalists increasingly have united to oppose the party-building movement, they have in turn become more isolated from the mainstream of the revolutionary struggle. This organizational growth and increased ties to the masses is another indication of our ability to move into the stage of the organizational building of the party.
While there is still much room for improvement in this area of organizational work, it is a fact that the communist movement today cannot be called a “white” movement or one made up exclusively of intellectuals. Working class and minority cadres are playing a significant role in this movement in positions of leadership as well as among the rank-and-file. The formation of new independent M-L organizations based along national lines is objectively a step backwards at the present time and should be opposed. We stand in principle for multi-national organization of communists and reject the idea of a “separate stage” in which a new communist organization along national lines must be built.
Organizational growth and development can also be seen in the widespread publication of Marxist-Leninist literature. Agitational and propaganda material is being published in nearly a dozen M-L publications including newspapers and theoretical magazines. This mass dissemination of M-L literature has brought a communist analysis to thousands of class conscious workers and has made Marxism increasingly a material force in society. The conditions exist for raising this to a higher level with the publication of a Leninist-type paper that will appear under the auspices of the Party at least weekly. This is a real blow at the primitiveness of opportunists like the RU who try to drag the movement backwards into local circle work and local publications of the economist type.
All of these features of the young communist movement have come about only through sharp ideological struggle both internal and external to their organization. No organization has been immune to this struggle and while some organizations have been weakened and split, others have moved ahead rapidly and grown stronger. This is the main feature of the struggle within our movement, a test of its line, its unity and its democratic-centralism. Our progress has demonstrated that we have passed this test.
We put forward in this paper some basic principles of unity around which we call on all Marxist-Leninists to unite in the new party. We do this with a sense of urgency knowing full well that the generally favorable conditions under which we have been working will be short-lived and that a much more difficult period lies ahead. We must move towards unity with great speed and oppose the view of those academic revolutionaries who wish to endlessly redefine our differences and eternally draw even further lines of demarcation outside the organizational structure of the party. This view will lead to disaster. The main trends have already been demarcated. A clear-cut Marxist-Leninist trend has emerged in opposition to both right and left opportunist organizational trends.
The Marxist-Leninist trend has demarcated itself in theory and practice around some basic programmatic points which can serve as the basis for M-L unity at this time. These principles of unity must be general enough to unite the forces but particular enough to draw a line of separation from the opportunists. They must make a clear break ideologically from the modern revisionists and centrists as well as the ultra-“leftists” and neo-trotskyists. In particular they must outline our stand on:
1) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat as our Strategic Objective:
This objective is based upon the leading role of the working class within the anti-imperialist struggle, expressing its own ideology and organizational leadership through its party. The workers’ dictatorship can only come about through the revolutionary armed struggle of the masses and the smashing of the bourgeois state machinery and not through the revolutionary armed struggle of the masses and the smashing of the bourgeois state machinery and not through the strategy advanced by the modern revisionists of electoral or other forms of legal struggle. Nor can it come about through the “urban guerilla” tactics of groups of intellectuals, like the “weathermen.” The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is the transitional stage on the path to a classless or communist society which is our ultimate goal. This final goal must be accepted in deed, not just in words, through literature, slogans and organization of the new party.
2) Party Organization:
This requires a disciplined cadre organization of the advanced, most conscious, self-sacrificing revolutionaries based on Marxism-Leninism as our guiding line. From its beginning it must be made up of the finest representatives of the working class, reflecting the working class’ multinational character. The party must base itself at the point of production, rather than in electoral districts as the parliamentary parties do. It must practice democratic-centralism, with one center and full democracy for all members. There must be unity of action and unity of will. The party “becomes strong by purging itself of opportunist elements,” (Stalin) and is “incompatible with the existence of factions.” Its style of work is characterized by the mass line (“from the masses to the masses”) which means developing the closest of ties to the working and oppressed people. It means intervening in the spontaneous struggles of the people and taking the ideas of the people, concentrating them, and raising them to a higher level through the integration of Marxism-Leninism. Secret work must play the leading role with open, legal activities used to broaden our forces and influence.
3) The International Situation:
We live in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. The world today is characterized by great turmoil as the people of the whole world have risen up in a broad front against imperialism and its strivings for world domination. In particular the opposition is to the two imperialist superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, whose rivalry threatens the people of the whole world as they drive closer to war. These superpowers are the main enemies of the world’s peoples and to defeat them a united front must be forged of all countries, nations and peoples that can be united against the two superpowers. An essential task of our movement is the exposing of the myth of “detente” being spread by imperialism. The revolutionary struggle of the people of the U.S. is part of this international united front. It is our responsibility to overthrow U.S. imperialism in the course of the struggle against both superpowers.
We must also render full support to the peoples, nations and countries of the world who are rising up in opposition to imperialism. This is especially true of the Third World countries who today are the main motive force pushing world history forward.
We stand opposed to the international trend of revisionism, led by the CPSU. We link our communist unity with fraternal parties and organizations around the world and on our stand as part of the international communist and workers’ movement. While maintaining our own independence, we carry on relations with other parties and organizations in other countries on the basis of bilateral relations, based on the equality of all parties, big or small.
In the U.S. the united front includes all those that can be united under the leadership of the proletariat and its party to oppose the rule and the reactionary policies of the giant monopolies. The core of this united front is based on the alliance and merger of the proletariat with the national movements of the oppressed peoples struggling for liberation, self-determination and democratic rights. This is a revolutionary united front, as opposed to the “Anti-Monopoly Coalition” of the revisionists, which is led by the liberal bourgeosie and based upon reformism and electoral struggle. Because of the modern revisionists’ betrayal of the revolutionary movements internationally and the role of the CPUSA as an agent and collaborator of the imperialist superpowers, we call for a principled break with the revisionists in theory and practice and reject the line of “united action” with revisionism.
4) The National Question:
Unity requires a proletarian-internationalist stand on the revolutionary significance of the national question in this era. This includes support for the right of self-determination of all oppressed nations who suffer under the yoke of imperialism and in particular the right to political secession for the Afro-American people in their historic homeland of the slave South. It also includes our support for Puerto Rican independence and full democratic rights for the Puerto Rican national minority in the U.S. and the Chicano national minority, Asian-American national minority and the Native American peoples. We also firmly support the full democratic rights of non-citizens and foreign-born nationals in the U.S. and stand opposed to all forms of white chauvinism and narrow nationalism.
The movement of the oppressed nationalities constitutes the main strategic ally of the U.S. working class.
5) United Front Against Imperialism:
We must build the united front as our vehicle for defeating imperialism and establishing the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Here in the U.S. our strategic objectives are overthrowing the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie and establishing a proletarian dictatorship in one stage. This must be done in the course of the struggle against both superpowers.
6) The Woman Question:
Party unity must be based on the proletarian approach to the struggle for the emancipation of women. The woman question is in essence a question of class struggle for the overthrow of imperialism. We call on the united struggle of the broad masses of men and women to bring about the revolutionary overthrow of imperialism which will create the conditions for the complete liberation of women. We must carry out the fight for democratic rights and oppose all forms of male chauvinism and feminism which serve only to disunite the working class. Special efforts must be made to carry out revolutionary work and communist training among women and youth.
7) The Labor Movement:
We take a revolutionary approach to the unions, which are the most basic and comprehensible form of workers’ organization. To us the unions are weapons for the emancipation of the working class from capitalism. Our policy must be to work within the unions and organize the unorganized. Our main enemy within the labor movement is the labor aristocracy and revisionists who are in the leadership of nearly all the big unions. Our work is based upon a consistent struggle to isolate and expel these opportunists from leadership and replace them with revolutionary leadership. This requires consistent work to build up the communist factory nucleus and carry out independent revolutionary work among the workers. This education must direct itself against the chauvinist policies of the labor aristocracy and always raise the interests of the whole working class.
It is the position of the OL that Marxist-Leninists should unite around these principles, not as a final statement or full program of the party but as a minimal basis for unity at the present time. We offer them in the spirit of unity and while firm in our commitment to Marxism-Leninism and all its principles, we are also flexible in tactics and determined to achieve principled unity through discussion and debate. We call for all Marxist-Leninists to discuss this paper with us and to hold meetings where it can be debated and unity forged.
After this discussion we propose that the new party be established around a temporary leading body which can survey the organizational forces represented in the party, establish democratic centralism and prepare us for our first Party Congress, to be held within a year of our founding. A newspaper of the Leninist type should be established under the central leadership which would appoint the editorial board. This paper would serve as the party’s central organ with a network of agents, propagandists and distributors in each city. The work around the paper would serve as the main way for the units (cells) to put forth our political line and program. The paper should serve as the nerve center of the party and until the first Congress act as the focal point for ideological struggle (based on practice) to determine how national and international events are analyzed and what theoretical works are published.
The main thrust of the mass work for the party must be to build a fighting, revolutionary response to the present capitalist offensive and crisis. Our party must be a party of mass struggle and not one of arm-chair intellectuals. To do this effectively, mass organizations of solidarity between workers and unemployed have to be built in each city, union, factory and community to fight for Jobs or Income Now. We must build a united front struggle against imperialist policies of war, fascism and national oppression with the working class in the lead.
As we accelerate our efforts to build a party, some will complain that we are “just like CLP and RU,” who have put forth bankrupt schemes for building the party. Just what makes our program for party building different? First of all, we work to build a party based upon Marxism-Leninism, not upon reformist or chauvinist lines of this opportunist trend, which are simply covered with Marxist rhetoric. Political line is the decisive factor in party building. The previous calls of these two groups to ”build a new party” were based upon their own weakness and isolation both from the masses and the other genuine communist forces. This isn’t the case here.
Our objection to these groups was never to their forming their parties and thereby consolidating themselves around their opportunist line. Our objection was to their efforts to drag the rest of the communist movement with them into their neo-Trotskyist swamp–where they will no doubt, happily reside along with their forerunners of Progressive Labor Party and the Provisional Organizing Committee. We ask only as Lenin did 75 years ago, “.. Jet go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word ’freedom,’ for we too are ’free’ to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turned towards the marsh!”
We have seen that marsh that the RU and CLP have marched into. It’s a neo-Trotskyist marsh based upon wrecking and splitting-based upon attacking the glorious struggles of the peoples of the Third World and the great communist parties of the world and the revolutionary line of Marxism-Leninism. So far they have been unable to drag the working people into this marsh along with them; whether in Boston, Detroit or anywhere else they concentrate themselves.
Secondly, our style of work flies in the face of the sectarianism, wrecking and splitting of these so-called “parties.” Their parties were simply built to strengthen the hegemony of these two opportunist groups. They were unprincipled efforts aimed at blocking and unprincipled alliances with all forms of opportunists. Our efforts are above-board and principled. They are based upon principled struggle and patient work. We reject get-rich-quick schemes of all types.
In conclusion, we call on communists to unite, to accelerate our efforts to form the party. Basing ourselves on Marxism-Leninism and the concrete conditions facing the working class today (which are the most favorable that can be expected), we must shift our emphasis to the actual organizational work of party construction.
ON TO THE NEW COMMUNIST PARTY!