First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 1, No. 7, November 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Comrades, developing Marxist-Leninists, advanced workers and friends of socialism:
Welcome to the first public forum of the Union for Working Class Emancipation. We gather here tonight in the aftermath of a colossal loss to the international communist movement and the oppressed and exploited of the whole world: the passing of our great teacher and leader Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The grief this gives rise to must be turned into strength – towards redoubling our efforts. Towards making use of this most powerful model in building our Proletarian Party of a New Type, in grasping as he always taught, “the correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything”.
Before going into the body of our presentation, we must initially level a self-criticism of our recent work, which reflects belittling Right Opportunism as the main danger in the communist movement and also belittling political line as the key link in the present period. Both of these deviations became clear to us immediately following the public forum of the Organizing Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party (Sept. 11).
We attempted to expose the party building process by directing our blows at the Right Opportunism of the OL, the force behind the OC. In the course of the struggle, the blows we directed at the OL were not exposing (as key) the principles of unity of the OC, which was steadily being called for by the rank and file who were present.
We, see these deviations as a continuation of the small circle (mentality) spirit which so heavily permeated the life of the RWL. Although we raised up our responsibility to the CM, of furthering the exposure and isolation of the “left” opportunist PRRWO/RWL clique, following six months of intensive struggle inside the RWL this was given greater attention here recently to the exclusion of Right Opportunism; one tendency covered another. We ask comrades to help deepen these criticisms.
We must (at the same time) also level a criticism at those communists who sat through the entire course of the struggle against Right Opportunism and did not level a single blow. We say frankly, that irrespective of whether they believe it or not, that objectively they served as support to Right Opportunism and failed in their communist duty of taking an irreconcilable stand against opportunism, which is foreign to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. We remind these comrades, “that the fight against Imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism”. We call upon these comrades to repudiate this deviation and grasp that Truth-MLMTTT, develops in struggle against falsehood. Comrades, take this criticism to heart, for this deviation is like a crack in the watershed of opportunism.
We entered various universities throughout Texas during the height of the student protest movements, such as those against the war in Vietnam, against discrimination and racism, and our participation in those movements raised tremendously our understanding of the society we live in, most importantly the need to work for change. This consciousness at first was not at a level where we knew what exactly was wrong with the system. Our ideas of our role in society and the source of what we began to see as bankruptcy, were also influenced by the Black Liberation Movement, which had grown beyond the civil rights struggle.
An increasing awareness of the suffering of the masses of the people and the brutal assassinations of leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King inspired in us a hatred for exploitation and oppression.
The struggles we took part in, some of which we led from 1969 to 1972 were primarily on campus. This growth through struggle led us to unity with the ideas of the Black Panthers, Stokely Carmichel, Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Kwame Nkrumah.
This revolutionary outlook we had grown to in struggle for change, was also happening to many others throughout the U.S. Some recognized the necessity to hook up these many groups and individuals into a nationwide organization – using as models to build this organization the experiences of others like SNCC [Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee–ed.] and SDS [students £or a Democratic Society–ed.] who by this time were declining.
Such was the organization that started out as the Student Organization for Black Unity (SOBU) and later grew into the Youth Organization for Black Unity (YOBU). Our guiding idea while in YOBU was Pan-Africanism, which was based upon the view of the unity of interests of Black people around the world.
The growth of the revolutionary movement throughout the U.S. was much higher than we actually knew at the time, although we were part of it and were steadily being influenced by it, mainly through our most energetic and devoted leaders. As they were influenced by the “higher forms” of the movement they disseminated it to us; and we in turn did likewise to many others. The influence of these “higher forms” of the movement and our determination in affecting change ultimately led us to junk the “theories” of Pan-Africanism.
The good thing, however, about our introduction to Pan-Africanism through YOBU, was that there was contained within it the influence of the more developed forms of the revolutionary movement, aspects of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought.
This deserves note here because Pan-Africanism as it was espoused across the country was terribly uneven. For example when we looked to SOBU (YOBU) for leadership while on different campuses in 1971, we received Pan-Africanism with the philosophical basis of communism, i.e., dialectical materialism. While right here in Houston, a major national spokesperson of Pan-Africanism would “have nothing to do with” Karl Marx.
This development of Pan-Africanism can be more clearly seen with the emergence of the two-line struggles in ALSC, one right and reactionary, espousing an atavistic return to the yesterday of African culture, and the other left and progressive, espousing a developing revolutionary line containing aspects of MLMTTT.
When we said that we “junked” Pan-Africanism, we do not mean that in a utilitarian sense, i.e., we did not use it until it wore out and had to throw it away. No, we had to discard it because it did not answer the hard questions that faced us. Questions that cried out for answers: racism, the oppression of women, poverty, Capitalism, etc. It was in the last stage of the first period of party building 1970-72 that we took up Pan-Africanism, this was during the same time RU /Revolutionary Union had undertaken the task of bringing MLMTTT to the student and national movements (69-72). These movements had been previously working off of various eclectic theories, of which Pan-Africanism was an example.
To answer the questions at hand, we needed a coherent and systematic body of ideas and views, theories which took everything into account, ideas which were current and up to date but yet had a history that verified their correctness; in other words, in working out our problems we needed a science.
Internally the theories of Pan-Africanism were overwhelmed by the development of MLMTTT. It was the rational kernel of MLMTTT within the thin shell of Pan-Africanism that we latched on to and developed. As our study and practice continued, we deepened our understanding of MLMTTT and became more aware of the Communist and Workers Movement.
It was our grasp of certain fundamental principles which gave us the impetus to form a collective and concentrate in Houston. Our motions within the collective served to consolidate us behind MLMTTT and raised our level of understanding of its meaning to the US proletarian revolution.
Early in 1974, we were approached by former “friends” (YOBU) and were encouraged to join a new National Cadre Formation, the forerunner of Revolutionary Workers League (RWL). For four months we struggled against this new formation; the struggle for unity came down to Party Building and our responsibility to the Black Liberation and Student Movements. The low level of clarity around the road to Party Building and our narrow nationalism led us to unite with the line of the NCF on how a National Black Cadre Formation was the best possible means of contributing to Party Building and maintaining our responsibilities inside the Black Liberation and Student Movements.
We still, however, insisted that our unity would have to be built through struggle and joint work, therefore we put forth a proposal for six months of struggle over line differences and joint work to clearly demarcate our unities and disunities, and then if possible unite. The local representatives of the NCF put forth an ultimatum which said that we knew enough about them that needed to be known and that we had two weeks to make up our minds. After internal struggle, unity with their line on Party Building won out.
For two years we waged struggle within RWL; sometimes adequate, other times not so adequate; sometimes staunch, often liberally; a great deal of the time principled, but sometimes unprincipled. There were significant struggles around the incorrect lines of RWL on the attention given to theory, agitation and propaganda, who were the advanced workers, and the abstention from mass work.
Our departure from RWL (via “the great purges” and resignations) indicates the surge for Building the Party on the Proletarian Ideological Plane and clearly reveals the sorting out process of the genuine from the sham.
We take great pride in the responsibility before us: the task of Building the Party on the Proletarian Ideological Plane. Part and parcel of this job is the continual struggle against revisionism, in both its Left (PRRWO/RWL) and Right (OL/RCP) forms.
There is much unity today around the need for a party, and this is good. The working class is in great need of a vanguard to teach, lead, and guide them in bringing forth socialism and a better world. But the points to be taken up here are not the “general unities” on the need for a party, but what kind of party do we want and how is this party to be built? Here is where the lines have been and are being drawn between genuine and sham party building processes.
The question of party building in advanced capitalist countries is not a simple task, it is of a very complex nature. E.F. Hill trenchantly expounds upon this difficulty:
In such Conditions the problems of building a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary Party have their own peculiarities. Much of the previous experience had been negative. It cannot be said that the problems had been adequately solved, anywhere. There were no guideposts. Moreover the main leaders of Communist Parties in almost all so-called bourgeois democracies had succumbed to revisionism. The question of party building had not been put sufficiently on the ideological plane. Therefore the Marxist-Leninists in Australia were compelled to face the question in a new way, what sort of Party, how to build the Party, how to put Party building on the ideological plane. (Hill, Australia’s Revolution, p.118)
We must witness the failures of past Communist Parties the world over and use these as lessons for insuring against future setbacks. Analyze and unfold the cause and reasons that led these parties to become shipwrecked upon hidden reefs, and make use of their experiences to avoid these unseen obstacles. And indeed, to temper and accumulate the knowledge that can afford us to see the unseen.
Just as the bourgeoisie uses technological advances and equips his armed forces to detect unseen phenomena with radar and various magnetic sensing devices, we must use the historical experiences of the international communist movement, and make use of the most revolutionary theoretical and practical advances summed up as MLMTTT and persist in our party building motions.
We seek to construct a party of the working class which will lead and guide the class through a most difficult journey in the struggle for socialism. Only a party which has been nurtured and steeled with a theoretical foundation of MLMTTT in the heat of class struggle can accomplish this goal. A party of the type which we speak of is captured in the first part of our slogan, “Build the Party on the Proletarian Ideological Plane and Grasp the Key Link of Political Line”. If such a course is not taken it is likely that we will suffer great hardships and much pain. Hill, referring to the Australian Communist Party’s degeneration says:
The betrayal of Communism by the revisionists was no mere partial betrayal expressed in a few political aberrations such as the peaceful transition to socialism, but it was a betrayal that went to the root of Marxism-Leninism. It embraced everything. It repudiated, while pretending to adhere to, the world outlook of Communism, materialist dialectics, the very basis of Communism. Moreover it revealed the weakness in ideology in the history of the Communist Party of Australia. (ibid, p. 119)
It is just this ideological vulnerability which we must “vaccinate” ourselves against.
When Lenin talked about the growth of Bolshevism in summing up the Russian revolution, he always showed how this growth was related to the struggle against Revisionism and Opportunism.
These struggles, theoretical and practical, are exactly what we see as giving the utmost importance to theory and scientific tenacity in building the Party, using the theories of MLMTTT to fend off all bourgeois and petty-bourgeois reactionary designs upon revolutionary social transformation.
Development is dialectical, and proceeds through the struggle of opposites. This is the cornerstone of Marxist philosophy, i.e. dialectical materialism; for the Party to develop and qualitatively progress, it must engage in struggle against that which opposes it, its opposite. For example, if we adhere to the integration of theory and practice, then we must fight against dogmatism and spontaneity. For the Party to have close ties with the masses, we must struggle against and criticize sectarianism. To maintain high levels of revolutionary theory, we must conscientiously study Marxism and criticize revisionism.
These struggles, all of them, require from us a revolutionary initiative; a critical militancy that has us always on guard with our MLMTTT as weapons. As Workers Viewpoint Organization puts it in their journal:
Marxism is not just some abstract truth to be retrieved in leisure, in a vacuum... The struggle to build a party itself is class struggle; it itself is urgent and has immediacy. Marxism has immediacy for its stand, viewpoint and method means it has to be used to change the world, to wage tit for tat struggle against class enemies and bourgeois ideology within our ranks. That’s why Marxism is characterized by its combativeness against the bourgeoisie and all its influences. (WV Journal #4, p. 41)
It is in the process of criticizing revisionism and bourgeois ideology that we tighten our grasp of Marxism. For example, the struggles waged against the Right opportunism of the OL and RCP, and the Left opportunism of PRRWO/RWL are not just arbitrary battles waged on the theoretical front. They are not polemics for the sake of wanting to polemicize. They are the concretization of the slogan “Build the Party on the Proletarian Ideological Plane and Grasp the Key Link of Political Line,” they are actual struggles against real bourgeois deviations’ along the lines of party building. A raging battle both theoretical and practical against incorrect lines on party building and the grasping of the correct lines in this process, actually serve to build the Party on the Proletarian Ideological Plane. Through these struggles against revisionism, clarity and the correct lines and principles of MLMTTT are upheld and are tightly grasped. Consequently becoming an integral part of the genuine party building efforts.
Why must we strengthen our ideological end theoretical vigilance?
We must conscientiously study Marxism and criticize revisionism, because as Lenin argued:
For the simple reason that the bourgeois ideology is far older in origin than the socialist ideology; because it is more fully developed and because it possesses immeasurably more opportunities for being spread. And the younger the socialist movement is in any given country, the more vigorously must it fight against all attempts to entrench non-socialist ideology, and the more strongly must the workers be warned against those bad counsellors who shout against ’overrating the conscious element’. (these shouts are very similar to those of PRRWO/RWL, when they scream about spending too much time talking about ideology–Ed.) (WITBD, p. 50)
We clearly must struggle to maintain and develop revolutionary Marxism in a hostile environment of revisionism and bourgeois ideology.
Our international experience is rich in lessons on exactly how this is to be done. Writing in 1920, Lenin explained how the Bolshevik Party achieved such great victories:
Only the history of Bolshevism during the whole period of its existence can satisfactorily explain why it was able to build up and to maintain under most difficult conditions the iron discipline needed for the victory of the proletariat. And first of all the question arises: how is the discipline of the revolutionary party of the proletariat maintained? How is it tested? How is it reinforced? First, by the class consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its perseverance, self-sacrifice and heroism. Secondly, by its ability to link itself with, to keep in close touch with, and to a certain extent, if you like, to merge with the broadest masses of the toilers –primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian toiling masses. Thirdly, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard, by the correctness of its political strategy and tactics, provided that the broadest masses have been convinced by their own experience that they are correct. Without these conditions, discipline in a revolutionary party that is really capable of being the party of the advanced class, whose mission it is to overthrow the bourgeoisie and transform the whole of society, cannot be achieved. (“Left-Wing Communism,” p. 6)
These lessons are further sharpened by our Chinese comrades in their 3 Great Traditions, and 5 criteria for membership in the Communist Party of China, which all communists in the U.S. must adopt in building the Party ideologically.
The 3 Great Traditions are:
1. Style of integrating theory and practice
2. Maintaining close ties with the masses
3. Practicing criticism and self-criticism
The 5 criteria for membership in the CPC are:
1. Conscientiously study MLMTTT and criticize revisionism
2. Work for the interests of the vast majority of the people of China and the world
3. Be able at uniting with the great majority, including those who have wrongly opposed them but are sincerely correcting their mistakes; however, special vigilance must be maintained against careerists, conspirators and double-dealers so as to prevent such bad elements from usurping the leadership of the party and the state at any level and guarantee that the leadership of the Party and the State always remains in the hands of Marxist revolutionaries
4. Consult with the masses when matters arise
5. Be bold in making criticism and self-criticism
This is the experience which we must master! As WVO says:
To build the party on the ideological plane, to Bolshevize our ranks to build the cadre core for the party must be done in the heat of class struggle. The relationship between Communists and the masses must be like that of fish in the ocean.
We must study Marxism and criticize revisionism.
We must link theory with practice and, in the course of linking them up in the thick of struggle against capitalism win the advanced to communism, practice the mass line ’from the masses, to the masses’ and utilize the wisdom of the masses. (WV Journal #4, p. 38)
We have stated our views in a general fashion on how we see the party being built on the ideological plane.
We would like to approach the party building process from still another angle. This view which we would like to entertain is one in which the development of the Party is seen in relationship to the fusion of the Communist and Workers movements.
What is the significance of the term fusion?
Is the term used arbitrarily and is it of no consequence?
For example, when the OL does not have a line on fusion in their party building process, does it really matter? Can their attempts at building a party suffer from such an exclusion?
Of course it will, and it must; but this is only one aspect of our contentions with the OL’s opportunist call for the party!!
We take our stand upon the scientific approach to party building, the approach of Lenin. Yes, there is a scientific credence to the term fusion, and it was used by Lenin in unfolding an analysis of the party building process in Russia.
Lenin writes thus:
Precisely this is what happened in Russia. In Russia too, socialism has been in existence for a long time, for many decades, standing aside from the struggle of the workers against the capitalists... However, the Russian socialists did not hold to their undeveloped, fallacious theory. They went forward, accepted Marx’s teaching and evolved a theory of worker’s socialism applicable to Russia.
At the present time the principal task for all Russian socialists and all class conscious Russian workers is to strengthen this fusion, consolidate and organize the Social-Democratic Labour Party. He who does not wish to recognize this fusion, he who tries to draw some sort of artificial line of demarcation between the working class movement and Social-Democracy in Russia renders no service but does harm to worker’s socialism and the working class movement in Russia. (“Retrograde Trend,” p. 258)
Explicit within this statement is the necessary relationship between the socialist movement and the worker’s movement. A combination of which legitimizes the theories of socialism by the concrete material force of the working class movement. A legitimacy which has not always been present. For socialism did not grow out of the spontaneous movement of the workers, but had to be carried into it. As Lenin summarized:
At first socialism and the working class movement existed separately in all European countries.
For this reason we see in all European countries a constantly growing urge to fuse socialism with the working class movement in a single Social-Democratic movement. When this fusion takes place the class struggle of the workers becomes the conscious struggle of the proletariat to emancipate itself from exploitation by the propertied classes, it is evolved into a higher form of the socialist workers movement – the independent working class Social-Democratic Party. (Ibid., p. 257)
So in viewing the party building process we firmly hold to the position that one has to have an analysis of fusion, which is a scientific approach to party building. This characterizes a concrete approach in viewing our tasks, it reveals the level of fusion and the necessary tasks that must be undertaken to further this unity between the communist movement and workers movement. Our analysis of this process of fusion, of this combination of the communist movement with the workers movement, is seen concretely!
Within the process of fusion as a whole resides definite periods, specific junctures upon which the process of fusion as a whole depends. This dialectical composition of concrete instances, of historical moments is the content of fusion. These moments within fusion are termed periods; we must have an analysis of periods to approach party building scientifically. We unite with the view of periods as stated by the WVO:
One aspect of strategic thinking of Communists on party building is the question of periods. It allows us to see what we have gone through and what is the next obstacle we must overcome in order to make the qualitative leap necessary to form the party.
Each phase, therefore, is characterized by a line struggle, with a dominant line, whether correct or incorrect. Resolution of the two line struggle, resolution of the principal contradiction that characterizes the movement as a whole, enables the communist movement to liquidate the old period and surge forward. (WV Journal #4, p. 93)
With these ideas stated, we take a definite stand on the fusion of the communist and workers movement of today.
Our view is that the communist movement has gone through two periods and is now in the third. The communist movement of today is traced back to the degeneration of the CPUSA and the unsuccessful attempts of its splinter groups, the PLP and the POC to reconstitute the party. The first period dates from the mid-60’s to 72. This was the period where eclecticism reigned, theories of Che Guevarism, Nkrumahism, and student and lumpen vanguardism. A period in which developing Marxism-Leninism struggled for hegemony, in which the RU played a vanguard role in the reaffirmation of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The second period dates from 1972 to 75; it was one in which the vanguard role of the RU turned into its opposite. This period is characterized by the struggle against the practice-practice line of the RU by a developing revolutionary theory trend which put party building as central and placed theory in a leading role. This Revolutionary Theory Trend (WVO, BWC, PRRWO, ATM) developed in 1974 around the leading role of theory, party building as central task, criticism and self-criticism, and the role of open polemics. These principles were in complete opposition to the opportunists RU/OL/CL/IWK.
This Revolutionary Theory Trend crystallized in the fall of 1975 into the revolutionary wing of the communist movement (WVO, ATM, PRRWO, RWL) and was united around:
the leading role of theory and the principal task of party building, propaganda as chief form of activity, factory nuclei as the basic unit of communist organization, necessity to get down with the ideological roots and national specific forms of revisionism, focus on winning the advanced workers and a M-L analysis of periods, key link and the advanced worker. (WV, Vol. I, #5, p. S-12)
The third period began in late 1975, when political line became the key link – this led to the disintegration within the revolutionary wing.
When the struggle over programmatic views, i.e. political lines, began, and the impending merger of RWL and WVO was halted, the floodgates of opportunism were flung wide open.
These are our views on the importance of fusion and periods in party building – compare this with the way the OL analyzes periods as the rise of collectives, study circles, and local groups to national pre-party organizations, and says nothing about line struggles!
But alas, our analysis does not stop here. As Lenin noted:
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels did their greatest service: they created a revolutionary theory that explained the necessity for this fusion and gave socialists the task of organizing the class struggle of the proletariat. (“Retrograde Trend,” p. 257)
This is where we take on our anarcho-syndicalists PRRWO/RWL. It is here where these opportunists were halted; in the third period of party building, because they could not answer the question!
And a pressing question indeed. How, to build the party on the proletarian ideological plane – grasping the key link of political line?!
They were prevented from answering this question by the force of their narrow nationalism and dogmatism; their well-rounded Leftism!
Our analysis of the disintegration of the wing is opposed to the type of analysis of OL. They cannot, answer the question of why and what objective phenomena forced the split, what motion independent of the wills of those involved pushed forward the disintegration process. All that they can say is that they are the “unity trend” and that the wing was an anti-party bloc and had to split up and “wreck” itself, because it was an un-principled combination in the first place, merely to oppose the “unity trend,” i.e. the OL.
We vehemently beg to differ here! We think that the disintegration proceeded from objective causes, from the objective development and requirements of the movement. Coming out of the second period where the Revolutionary Theory Trend crystallized into the revolutionary wing, there was a concrete basis of unity (the leading role of theory, the central task of party building, propaganda as chief form of activity, factory nuclei as the basic unit of communist organization, etc.)
The continuing struggles in the third period over political line was what sorted out these petty-bourgeois fellow travelers and it was due to their inadequate assimilation of MLMTTT; their indiscrete inability to exercise Marxism concretely and not abstractly and dogmatically.
In this process, the leading circle in the communist movement (WVO) achieved resounding victories against opportunism and has without contention, laid the basis for the further development of political line in this, the third period.
Lenin explained the phenomena or anarcho-socialism as a lawful occurrence engendered by the economic system. By the crushing effect of capitalism upon the petty-bourgeoisie which drives them into the proletariat. Entering the ranks of the working class, these former petty-bourgeois elements appear within the revolutionary movements of the workers, but only assimilate aspects of MLMTTT because they are unable’ to break from their “old outlook.” This petty-bourgeois revolutionism is unstable and as Lenin said can:
become swiftly transformed into submission, apathy, fantasy and even a frenzied infatuation with one or another bourgeois fad... (“Left-Wing Communism,” p. 17)
It is this phenomena which we must deal with... revolutionaries who appear to be – but in fact are not.
They are so revolutionary, that they go beyond the masses. They concentrate on great sounding slogans and fixate on words instead of concretely analysing concrete conditions. They stop at the letters of MLMTTT and cannot understand the living spirit. They can talk about Bolshevism – and cry out “we are the Bolsheviks!”
But as Lenin once said:
the ’Left’ Communists have a great deal to say in praise of us Bolsheviks. One sometimes feels like telling them to praise us less and try to understand the tactics of the Bolsheviks more... (Ibid., p. 53)
How did PRRWO/RWL answer this question of building the party and utterly fall on their faces?
To PRRWO/RWL, party building is the central and only task facing the communist movement. They quote Stalin’s article, The Party Before and After Taking Power, to reinforce their interpretation. This view of PRRWO/RWL’s on party building as the central and only task is related to the rest of the left opportunist lines. Flowing from this interpretation are their views of propaganda and agitation, the spontaneous mass movements and” the role of communists within them, ideology as key, and fusion just to name a few.
What is meant by the statement that party building is the central and only task?
From Stalin’s article. The Party Before and After Taking Power, PRRWO/RWL use the expositions of the first period of winning over the vanguard and the second period of going over to the broad masses as an historical parallel for their own party building efforts. As the journal Bolshevik reads:
Comrades we hold that we are in the first period that Stalin talked about, the period of winning the vanguard to communism, where we must pay attention to the party itself. (p. 33)
Their reactions to agitation and participation in broad united front work is that the first period is being skipped over. For example in Palante we read:
However, any way they put it, it is opportunist to even give the impression that we are in the second period, when we cannot go to that period without winning the vanguard and organizing the advanced detachment, the party. (Vol. 6, #5, p. 7)
This is a most metaphysical, dogmatic and petrified method of thinking and clearly reveals our anarcho-socialists’ inability to grasp dialectics. Their interpretation of Stalin’s article also fosters their fears of bowing to spontaneity which is really fears of engaging in the spontaneous struggles of the class.
But what are the facts here, and where is a dialectical presentation of the question?
First of all the article by Stalin was written in 1921 and was a summary of the achievements made by the Bolsheviks which was necessary and without which a successful insurrection against the bourgeoisie in Russia would have been impossible. What Stalin referred to as periods in his 1921 article, Lenin more precisely explains as steps in his 1920 pamphlet Left-Wing Communism.
What our anarcho-socialists do is in place of an analysis of periods in our party building motion, they instead drop on us Stalin’s exposition on insurrection.
Let us use Stalin too. But we will use him concretely, within an historical context and precisely speaking to a party building process.
Writing in 1901, Stalin summed up the early activities of the Russian Social-Democrats:
The Russian Socialists established contact with the masses of the workers only at the beginning of the 90’s... Russian Social-Democracy now concentrated all its efforts and attention upon the movement that was going on among the Russian workers at that time...There was no systematic organizational work in that movement at that time, of course: that movement was a spontaneous one. And so, Social-Democracy set to work upon this unconscious, spontaneous and unorganized movement. It tried to develop the class consciousness of the workers...to combine them in a common class struggle in order that it might become the struggle of the Russian working class against the oppressing class of Russia; and it tried to give this struggle and organized character. (“Russian Social-Democratic Party and its Immediate Tasks,” CW, vol. 1, p. 11-12)
This was Stalin. This is what Lenin meant by organizing the class struggle of the proletariat; this was the concrete fusing of the Socialist and workers movement. This is the correct approach. A dialectical materialist conception of what is to be done and how to do it. There is no clap trap about only winning the vanguard and avoiding the spontaneous upsurges as a prevention to the disease of opportunism.
No! A correct view sees the relationship between the spontaneous movement and the need for communist consciousness to provide leadership and does not perform a transmutation upon the “spontaneous movement” deriving from it a “spontaneity” which is the root of all opportunism.
Lenin expressing himself said:
Were not our strikes mere spontaneous outbursts until the revolutionary circles of socialists undertook extensive agitation and summoned the working masses to the class struggle, to the conscious struggle against their oppressors? Can one find in history a single case of a popular movement, of a class movement, that did not begin with spontaneous, unorganised outbursts, that would have assumed an organised form and created political parties without the conscious intervention of enlightened representatives of the given class? (Apropos of the Profession De Foi, LCW, vol. 4, p. 290)
What we end up with is PRRWO/RWL’s dogmatism and abstention on the tasks of communists in organizing the class struggle. Their view of conducting agitation today is that itís not supposed to be done yet; that periods are being confused; i.e., the going over to the masses comes only after winning over the vanguard. This defect in their conception of the motion of the party building process goes hand in hand with their methodology of getting their line across.
When their line flies in the face of reality, and when what they say does not conform to historical fact, they can not rely on truth to reinforce their line, but must resort to a most vulgar practice of posturing, of an over reliance on forms, of staunchness and not correctness, upon being “super” Bolsheviks.
They rely on the lower instincts of the workers, by whipping up their emotions to support a very ragged line. This is the methodology of declassed elements of the petty-bourgeoisie – this is their hustlerism.
In 1899, was Lenin skipping periods and bowing to spontaneity when he wrote:
the task of Social-Democracy is to bring definite socialist ideals to the spontaneous working class movement, to connect this movement with socialist convictions that should attain the level of contemporary science... by organising the workers, by conducting propaganda and agitation among them, to turn their spontaneous struggle against their oppressors into the struggle of a definite political party for definite political and socialist ideals. (“Our Immediate Task”, LCW, vol. 4, p.216-217)
Well, according to the line of PRRWO/RWL, Lenin would be both bowing to spontaneity and skipping from the first to the second period.
In that same year, he writes again:
A socialist, on the contrary, will draw from it the conclusion that the time has long been ripe for political” agitation, for the broadest possible appeal to the working masses to engage in political action and political struggle. (Apropos of the Profession De Foi p.290)
This is 1899, three years before the Second Congress organizationally formed the Party. This is a correct line on party building, one that takes into account the real life struggles of the working class and the practical job of fusing the communist movement with the working class movement to form a genuine revolutionary party. It expresses a real connection between agitation and propaganda. Between expounding upon many ideas which only a few people can understand, and delivering a few ideas which many people will, comprehend. Propaganda is the chief form of work, but there is also agitation; and not seeing the connection or refusing to see agitation anywhere else but in a “mythical” second period is blockheadedness.
To PRRWO/RWL these activities that Lenin talked about would be “building the mass movement”! To Lenin, and ourselves, it was and is the activity of organizing the class struggle of the proletariat.
This deviation of our “Lefts” results from their inability to conceive of the dialectical process. They view the party building process as two periods consisting of (l)winning over the vanguard and (2)going over to the broad masses. The two periods are pure and non-contradictory. In the first period there is only propaganda and not agitation, because agitation to them means going over to the broad masses, which they say is in the second period, and before you can do that (according to them), the vanguard must be won over and the party formed. The formation of the party will represent the consciousness that is needed to prevent/curtail all of the “bowing to spontaneity” (read: engaging in spontaneous struggles of the class) which they most forcefully maintain is rendering everyone opportunist at this time.
These errors in outlook, which are metaphysical and idealist, are consistently committed by our Anarcho-Socialists, and it runs throughout their lines.
Their position on the international situation is a good example of a left and lifeless line. While appearing to be revolutionary, and saying revolution is the main trend in the world today, PRRWO/RWL sabotages the correct approach to building a party under the present conditions of “two contending trends of war and revolution, either war gives rise to revolution will prevent war.”
Their error lies in viewing the process of revolution as a straight line with no twists, turns, or setbacks Instead of making a concrete investigation of the current situation, sophistry is resorted to; the using of quotes out of context of time and place.
For example, in the Bolshevik, they take quotes from the Chinese in 1971 and in 1975; in both of these instances the Chinese were analysing the current situation which in both cases were different. In 1971, revolution was the main trend. In 1975, the factors for both war and revolution were rising.
But our left opportunists refuse to see the real world and act upon their illusion going right ahead in their journal and using the quotes (out of context of course) of the Chinese comrades to refute the correct analysis of the Chinese and to shore up their line of revolution as the main trend in the world today.
Not having a correct line on the international situation prevents PRRWO/RWL from preparing the working class for the immediate struggle. Their line on Angola, that it represented revolution as the main trend, ignores the N contention of the two superpowers in Angola and the danger of the rising factor of war as well as revolution. This position repudiates an earlier one and concretely supports the MPLA, the Soviet Union’s “aid for the revolutionary cause”, and the Cuban mercenaries “proletarian internationalism”. This downplays the Soviet Social-Imperialists as the main source of war today!
Another example is the united front and unite to expose tactics that Lenin expounds upon in his book, Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder.
For left opportunist PRRWO/RWL, as well as the right opportunist OL, this means nothing. To them there is “no united action with revisionists”! This by the way is a very good example of the unity between the Left and Right, on being in essence – OPPORTUNISTS.
The statement that the OL and PRRWO/RWL both use is taken from the struggles between the Soviet Social-Imperialists and the Communist Party of China in the early 1960s. It was the hegemonic schemes of the Social-Imperialists to broaden their influence in the International Communist Movement by attempts to impose their lines upon it. They sought to unify the International Communist Movement around their Revisionism, and this was when the Chinese put forward their opposition to united action with revisionists.
Actually, what the OL, and PRRWO/RWL do is use the statement (No United Action with Revisionists) to abstain from the task that Communists have of severing the influence that opportunist leadership has upon the masses. Not adhering to these united front tactics, our opportunists certainly would not think of “entering forbidden premises” and going wherever the masses are to be found to influence them.
For example, we attended a forum just last week that was initiated by the OL. This forum was called by the Organizing Committee for a M-L Party.
We made a concrete analysis of this forum: (l)we knew that we would be relatively free to expose the opportunist OL, and (2)our view of the audience was that there was a mixture of honest folks as well as hard core OL, and that the opportunity of destroying the influence of the opportunist OL over these workers was present.
We attended the forum and actively attempted to expose the opportunism of the OL party building motion, which we think was overall successful, taking into consideration the maneuvering, distortions, and attempts at slandering by the OL.
This forum was not attended by the “SUPER BOLSHEVIK” leadership of the RWL, this is an example of their boycottism – their “cave dwelling mentality”. Their fear of spontaneous struggles and their isolation from the mass upsurges leads them straight to a cave, from which we can hear their words echoing – Bolshevik this”! “We are the Bolsheviks”! “Check it out”!
We have formed the Union For Working Class Emancipation with the high hopes of destroying it. That is to say, we practice party spirit. We formed the organization with purpose of contributing to the party building efforts in the U.S. and not with the aim of practicing small circle spirit, viewing the organization as ours, all ours. We view the WVO as the leading circle in the communist movement at this time, and we seek to work in unison with what we term as the most overall correct line.
In the presentation, we did not attempt to speak to all of the questions, in regards to our line on party building nor the PRRWO/RWL’s Left Opportunist lines.
What we attempted to do was push ahead our understanding on ideologically building the party and center in on what we analyzed to be a crucial “plank” in our Anarcho-Socialists’ “boardwalk” to party building (the use of Stalin’s The Party Before and After).
This presentation should be seen as an initial skirmish in a continuing battle with Anarcho-Socialism, one that will intensify, further develop and render the “Opportunists from the Left” a sure defeat.