The proletarian-socialist revolution in the U.S. is inevitable. The bourgeoisie is destined to join all the other previous exploiting classes in the shadows of history.
This is the fate of the bourgeoisie, for while creating the conditions for its own existence, at the same time it brings forth all the material conditions for its own downfall. As capitalism develops, the bourgeoisie, owning the means of production, constantly strives to increase its profits, resulting in the development and increased impoverishment of the working class, the class that owns no means of production and must sell its labor power to the bourgeoisie.
An irreconcilable contradiction develops between the exploiting bourgeoisie and the exploited working class–the social character of production which the bourgeoisie develops contradicts the private ownership of the means of production and demands the social ownership of the means of production.
The development of capitalism into its monopoly stage, imperialism, intensifies these contradictions. “Imperialism is the eve of the socialist revolution.” (Lenin quoted in Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, p.27) Joining the working class in opposition to the bourgeoisie are the hundreds of millions of oppressed peoples. Together, the working class and oppressed peoples conduct continuous struggle against their class enemy. Throughout the history of capitalism, the exploited and oppressed peoples have spontaneously united for their own immediate interests through such forms as organizations of the masses, strikes and even armed rebellions. These are all part of the general law of unceasing class struggle in history and it is evident that this situation must result in the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie with its rule replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat, thus finally liberating the working class and oppressed peoples.
While capitalism creates all the material conditions for the proletarian revolution, the proletarian revolution does not simply flow out of the daily development of capitalism. Proletarian revolution requires that the masses be conscious of revolution and of their planned activity, direction and organization–the subjective factor. The subjective factor is precisely that material force–an irresistable historical force–created as the masses become armed with correct advanced ideas. Stalin pointed out:
New social ideas and theories arise precisely because they are necessary to society, because it is impossible to carry out the urgent tasks of development of the material life of society without their organizing, mobilizing and transforming action. (Stalin, History of the CPSU, pp. 105-106, emphasis in original)
How is this subjective factor to be created? It requires that the ideas of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought be brought to the masses. The subjective factor is not created independently of the objective processes, but rather the activity of the revolutionary forces must correspond to the requirements and limitations of the objective conditions. And as Foto Cami notes:
The subjective factor, comrade Enver Hoxha pointed out at the 6th Congress, is not prepared only through the actions of a ’focus’ of guerrillas, nor only through agitation and propaganda. For this, as Lenin and life itself teach us, it is indispensable for the masses to become convinced through their own practical experience. (Foto Cami, “Objective and Subjective Factors in Revolution,” Albania Today, No. 8, 1973, emphasis in original)
This task of creating the subjective factor therefore requires that the advanced detachment of the working class organize itself into the Marxist-Leninist Party, for only such a revolutionary party, armed with the most advanced theory and a profound grasp of the concrete conditions, can accomplish the task.
Thus we can say that in a sense the entire outcome of the proletarian revolution depends upon the vanguard party’s development of the most powerful revolutionary force on earth: the consciousness, organization and activity of the masses.
Our present situation is characterized by the absence of a truly revolutionary communist party. Since the turn of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) to revisionism it has become a vicious enemy of the revolutionary peoples–it openly accepts and promotes respect for and adherence to capitalist law and the bourgeois state. It ridicules the fundamental Marxist teaching that for the working class to become the ruling class and build socialism it must overthrow the capitalist state; rather the CPUSA preaches that the emancipation of the masses can come about through reliance upon the very force that suppresses the masses, the bourgeoisie’s government. Consistent with this view is the CPUSA’s anti-revolutionary view that the liberation of the oppressed nationalities can come about through a series of reforms.
With respect to the international situation, the CPUSA is a mouthpiece and upholder of imperialism, especially Soviet social-imperialism; and is rabidly anti-communist and anti-revolutionary as seen in its stance towards the People’s Republic of China and various other struggles of the Third World countries.
These aspects of the CPUSA are all reflections of their fundamental bourgeois outlook which denies the subjective factor in revolution. The CPUSA does not put forward advanced socialist ideas and theories which can move society forward but rather clings slavishly to the theories and ideas of the bourgeoisie while hiding behind the words of Marxism-Leninism. It is therefore necessary to recognize that the CPUSA is a dangerous, reactionary force that will scurry to no end to oppose the revolutionary transformation of the thinking and activity of the masses and thus it must be staunchly opposed and its revisionism repudiated.
Thus, with the recognition of the absolute necessity of the vanguard party and with our present lack of one, it is necessary to place as the central task of all revolutionaries in the U.S. the construction of a genuine communist party for the U.S. Since the time of Marx, whenever there has been no communist party, building a Marxist-Leninist party has become the central task. The embryonic communist organizations which exist today are steps towards this goal and yet we can see that we all fall short of fulfilling the tremendous ideological, political and organizational responsibilities that the rapidly expanding mass movement places before us. Therefore we must struggle to clarify our views and revolutionary lines and unite all genuine Marxist-Leninist forces to forge a vanguard communist party which is decisive in the creation of the subjective factor.
Party building is the continuous struggle Marxist-Leninists must engage in to strengthen the correct thinking and doing of the proletarian vanguard by deepening the understanding and integration of the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the actual conditions of their society, improving their links with the masses, and repudiating all opportunist tendencies and deviations in their ranks.
In the present period in the U.S., without a vanguard party, party building takes the form of struggling to unite conscious revolutionaries around a correct ideological, political and organizational line to form the party. After the party is formed, party building takes the form of rectifying erroneous thinking and doing in all spheres of the party and strengthening the grasp of the Marxist-Leninist line on the party. Party building must go on continuously if the party is to remain a truly revolutionary vanguard party able to lead the proletarian revolution through the dictatorship of the proletariat to the era of communism. Focusing on our present period in which we have no communist party, how should we view the task of party building and what does it entail?
In a concise statement, we view party building as a struggle in the conscious realm for the correct ideological, political and organizational line. It is the theoretical and practical backwardness of revolutionaries, not the state of the mass movement, that is the chief obstacle to the formation of this party. This backwardness can only be overcome if we place the ideological struggle, the struggle to grasp Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, at the heart of party building. Grasping Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is accomplished by integrating theory with practice (with the creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory being decisive at this time), integrating with the, masses and combatting opportunism. Clear and definite lines of demarcation between Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and all opportunism must be made. The declaration of party building as our central task means placing the ideological struggle as fundamental in all our work in order to develop the correct line around which we can unite Marxist-Leninists to form the new vanguard party.
At a certain time in the history of capitalism, the building of a revolutionary party of the proletariat was not a question. The working class had not developed as a class and the scientific laws of society were still largely undiscovered. Mankind’s ability to understand human society had not reached a point of fundamental scientific comprehension.
As capitalism developed more and more, mankind’s knowledge deepened and developed through the struggle of scientific experiment and discovery and the proletariat accumulated rich experience through its prolonged class struggle against capital. It was from these struggles that the leaders of the proletarian struggle, Marx and Engels, were able to develop the world outlook of the proletariat, including its stand, viewpoint and method. With the dialectical materialist method they summarized the practice of the working class, developed the theory of scientific socialism and began to create the subjective factor for socialist revolution.
The question of forming a revolutionary party of the working class could not be one of the further spontaneous development of capitalism but rather one of the conscious, planned side of the working class movement. Since the time of Karl Marx, the general conditions of capitalist society have called for the existence of an independent revolutionary party for the working class.
Today in the U.S., is the question of forming a proletarian vanguard party one of waiting for the further development of the general condition of capitalism, or is it a question of the development of the correct consciousness? Undoubtedly, the capitalist system has already created all the general objective conditions for party building. This is what we mean when we say that party building today, as with all other questions concerning the organized power of the working class, its comprehension of society and its strategy and tactics, is a question of the conscious realm.
Negating that party building is a struggle of the conscious realm and seeing that the development of the party is dependent upon the further development of capitalism or the spontaneous mass movement results only in tailing the spontaneous movement. This is a fundamental negation of the leading role communist consciousness must play. It is to guarantee that the party will only tail after the spontaneous movement rather than march at its head.
We stated previously that in the present period, party building takes the form of overcoming the theoretical and practical backwardness of revolutionaries by placing the struggle for the ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought at the heart of all our work. The fundamental requirement for uniting revolutionaries into a vanguard party is the development of a Marxist-Leninist ideological and political line. “The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything.” (Mao Tsetung, quoted in Documents of the 10th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, p. 17)
Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought must become the basis for all our thinking and doing because it is the only thoroughly revolutionary ideology. It must be the basic guide for the working class in its struggle for emancipation.
Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is the science of comprehending human society and making proletarian revolution. It encompasses the basic stand, viewpoint, and method of the working class and constitutes revolutionary proletarian ideology.
“The conditions, sentiments, interests, strivings and tasks of the class” form “class consciousness” or “ideology”. (V. Soren, “Lenin’s Teachings About the Party,” p. 5)
We reject the view that adopting proletarian ideology is a matter of adopting certain so-called proletarian personality characteristics above and beyond politics. There is no such thing as cultivating the “socialist man” or “socialist woman” apart from the actual revolutionary class struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. This metaphysical view is nothing but reactionary individual self-cultivation, placing self rather than revolution in the center of things and has nothing in common with MLMTT.
Neither is the ideological struggle the struggle for a correct “methodology” apart from actually learning of concrete realities, as some have advocated. Lenin said, “Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects (quoted in Mao, “On Contradiction,” Selected Readings, p. 85, emphasis in original) One cannot learn surgery methods apart from actually learning of the body and its ailments.
The ideological struggle is not the struggle simply to restate general MLMTT truths, or philosophical views. The ideological struggle rather, is the struggle for the revolutionary essence, the fundamental principles of MLMTT and their living integration with the concrete conditions. The best example we have recently of the ideological struggle is the polemics carried on by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The CCP did not simply put forward that it possessed greater “proletarian qualities,” nor did it remain content to speak of its “methodology” as superior to that of the CPSU, nor did it simply restate some famous quotations from Marx or Lenin. The CCP did none of these things but rather set out to reaffirm the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism by putting forward an analysis of the “very essence of things,” such as the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the national question, imperialism, war and peace, etc. This is the model we should learn from in waging our ideological struggle for Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.
The ideology of the proletariat is expressed in the most concentrated way in the theoretical work of MLMTT. “Theory is the experience of the working class movement in all countries taken in its general aspect.” (Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, p. 22)
Marxist-Leninist theory is both objective and partisan. It is objective because it is based upon a scientific understanding of human society, uncovering the general laws of social development.
It is partisan because the proletariat, among all classes, is the only class that is able to grasp and develop this science since it alone has no class interest in mystifying or ignoring the dynamics of history. The working class has no interest in covering up or distorting the history of exploitation and oppression of the masses and the class struggle which must inevitably lead to the era of world communism. It is partisan, furthermore, in that Marxist theory is openly in the service of the proletarian revolution. In fact, it can only be comprehended when it is put into practice for the revolution.
We see Mao Tsetung Thought as a significant developing contribution to Marxism-Leninism. Starting from the solving of the basic problems of the Chinese revolution, Mao Tsetung has substantially furthered the proletariat’s understanding and method of revolution. Mao Tsetung Thought has universal meaning.
Mao Tsetung Thought includes a number of lessons in many areas such as people’s war, the new democratic revolution, the mass line and dialectics. Mao’s affirmation of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism (such as the role of force in revolution, the nature of imperialism, the vanguard role of the proletarian party, etc.) and his contribution on the question of the cultural revolution and the problem of the restoration of capitalism under the dictatorship of the proletariat has made Mao Tsetung Thought the dividing line today between true Marxist-Leninists and modern revisionists.
In particular with regards to party building, Mao’s articles such as “Where do Correct Ideas Come From?,” “On Practice,” “On Contradiction,” “Reform Our Study,” “Rectify the Party’s Style of Work,” and others have direct lessons for us today. They contain fundamental teachings on the problems of party building concerning problems of study, linking theory and practice, the relationship between thinking and doing, and dialectical and historical materialism.
These works by Mao give guidance for us today on how we should view the question of study and learning Marxism-Leninism. They contain fundamental lessons on how to make Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought a living science of revolution.
In particular, the U.S. revolutionary movement has been plagued by problems of subjectivism in our study and learning, taking the worship of book knowledge or fragmentary practical knowledge as complete revolutionary truth.. These are errors of dogmatism and empiricism, anti-Marxist attitudes described by Mao as the two aspects of subjectivism.
Dogmatism is the making of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought into a body of lifeless “theories” abstracted from illuminating the current realities. Dogmatism studies Marxist-Leninist classics divorced from seeing it as a guide to action. “Theories” are divorced from life. And life is not seen as the basis for theory. The other aspect of subjectivism, empiricism, means engaging in practical work without recognizing the importance of studying and analyzing the objective conditions and disregards the necessity to raise practice to a level of theory to further guide our practice.
These deviations, while contradictory, form a unity: the petty bourgeois outlook on studying and learning: Empiricism and dogmatism are two sides of the same petty bourgeois coin. A twirl of the coin of subjectivism will abruptly show this or that side.
. . . Reversals from empiricism to dogmatism and from dogmatism to empiricism are peculiarly common to those who still retain the petty bourgeois world outlook. Nevertheless, when one is the principal aspect of a subjectivist stand, the other is bound to be the secondary aspect and the secondary aspect becomes the principal aspect at another moment. That is the dialectical relationship of empiricism and dogmatism. Comrades should not wonder why under a dogmatist leadership there should be cases of empiricism; what is common between dogmatism and empiricism is the use of narrow and limited experience as the basis for over-all subjectivist decisions. Also, comrades should not wonder why a leadership with the same petty bourgeois orientation should swing from empiricism to dogmatism and back to empiricism, and so on and so forth. All subjectivists fail to grasp the laws of dialectical development and so they are volatile and erratic. (Cadre Guide, Communist Party of the Philippines, M-L)
This passage aptly describes much of the phenomena in the U.S. revolutionary movement today. We witness groups flip-flopping from one tendency to another; some believe they will find the blueprint for the U.S. revolution in the documents of some past revolutionary group or at other times will take their own immediate successes or failures in some limited area of work as the complete answer to a general revolutionary question. These errors have caused great harm to our movement and have prevented many from struggling to make Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought a living science for our struggle.
Therefore we put forth that we must further struggle to bring out the lessons of Mao Tsetung on study and learning. With the Marxist-Leninist attitude towards study and learning
a person applies the theory and method of Marxism-Leninism to the systematic and thorough investigation and study of the environment. He does not work by enthusiasm alone but, as Stalin says, combines revolutionary sweep with practicalness . . . With this attitude, one studies the theory of Marxism-Leninism with a purpose, that is, to integrate Marxist-Leninist theory with the actual movement of the Chinese revolution and to seek from this theory the stand, viewpoint and method with which to solve the theoretical and tactical problems of the Chinese Revolution. (Mao, “Reform Our Study,” Selected Readings, pp. 204-205)
We must constantly strive to employ the correct approach to study and to solving the problems which confront our movement. We must seek to integrate Marxist-Leninist theory with the actual movement of the U.S. revolution and utilize the revolutionary lessons, principles, perspectives and the dialectical materialist method of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to answer the great theoretical and practical tasks before us.
There are no blueprints to revolution; there are no easy “practical” answers to party building. Our struggle requires nothing less than making Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought a living science which will permeate every aspect of our thoughts and actions.
Grasping that party building is fundamentally an ideological task enables us to put into perspective the other aspects of party building work: the struggles for correct political and organizational lines.
“Politics” is the general question of class struggle. Nothing in society stands above class struggle and thus nothing is above politics. In this sense, everything is political and politics is everything.
In a more specific sense, “politics” also refers to “political line.” The struggle over political line is the struggle to determine our stance over more particular questions of the revolution, using as our guide MLMTT. It is the struggle over such problems as determining the stage and immediate tasks of the revolution, the relationship to various class forces or groups, or our attitude towards specific problems that arise. The political line is formed for a very definite and limited historical period of the revolution.
Political line cannot be separated from the struggle for proletarian ideology. Often ideological struggle begins in the attempt to determine political line. What begins as a debate over a specific event or condition may develop into a struggle over fundamental questions of MLMTT. For example, the debate around the RU’s opportunist political line in the Farah strike support committees provided important ideological lessons regarding the proletariat’s stand on the spontaneous workers movement and the national question.
In fact, the source of all opportunism in political line is ideological and struggle must be raised to an ideological level to expose and defeat this opportunism. Not all political errors are reflections of bourgeois ideology, but do indicate ideological weaknesses. Hence the ideological struggle is necessary to repudiate opportunism but also to prevent political errors being Justified and raised into an entire opportunist trend.
Thus, the struggle over political line cannot be separated from the struggle for Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, for a correct political line must be based on a correct world outlook. Political line is based on ideology and in turn further enriches ideology.
With regard to organizational line, organization serves politics and ideology and is a material manifestation of ideology and politics. All organizations are based on politics and ideology, for the purpose of all organization is to help carry out those lines. All organizations–no matter what their class basis and purpose–are formed, structured and function according to their ideology and politics. Lenin pointed out,
The character of any organization is naturally and inevitably determined by the content of its activity. (Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, p. 122.)
All Marxist-Leninists strive for the organizational manifestation of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, i.e. the communist form of organization, the highest form being the communist party.
The party, to be consistent with its principles and objectives, must be a highly disciplined organization, organized on democratic-centralism, based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and capable of leading the revolution to overthrow capitalism.
For the communist party, the question of organization deals with how the proletariat and its vanguard will be organized in order actually to carry out the tasks of the revolution. Organizational line deals with both the internal functioning of the party as well as the party’s external relations with other organizations of the working class and the masses.
The organizational line deals with the implementation of democratic-centralism according to the conditions and needs of the revolution, the methods of leadership, criticism and self-criticism, development and use of cadres, internal struggle, open and secret work, legal and illegal work, etc.
The organizational line is a reflection of the political and ideological lines, and the correctness of the organizational line is necessary in order for the political and ideological lines to be able to triumph.
Incorrect organizational line will damage and hold back the party’s work and influence. And in fact, an opportunist organizational line can most definitely be traced back to serious political and ideological errors. All of Lenin’s works criticizing the economists and other opportunists on the organizational question are all directly linked to their opportunism on ideological and political questions.
Thus, ideology, politics and organization form a unity, with ideology being the foundation of that unity.
The development of the correct ideological, political and organizational line can develop only out of the mastering of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. This is done through the integration of MLMTT with the actual conditions of the class struggle in the U.S., integration of Marxist-Leninists with the masses, and combatting opportunism.
As we stated earlier, one important aspect in developing a correct ideological stance is the process of grasping and putting into practice a correct application of the Marxist theory of knowledge and in particular the dialectical relation between theory and practice.
Marxist-Leninist theory cannot be learned Just from reading some “classics.” Many bourgeois intellectuals and counter-revolutionaries do this all the time and are never able to really comprehend and apply the theory. Marxist-Leninist theory is a general universal truth, and to actually master it, it must be understood through its particular application. Marxist-Leninist theory cannot be learned abstractly, apart from a concrete analysis of concrete conditions.
Mastering the Marxist-Leninist theory does not at all mean learning all its formulas and conclusions by heart and clinging to their every letter. To master the Marxist-Leninist theory we must first of all learn to distinguish between its letter and substance. Mastering the Marxist-Leninist theory means assimilating the substance of this theory and learning to use it in the solution of the practical problems of the revolutionary movement under the varying conditions of the class struggle of the proletariat. (History of the CPSU, p. 331, emphasis from original.)
There is no such thing, then, of “first learning the theory” and then applying it to concrete conditions, or “first mastering the science” and then engaging in practice. Revolutionary theory ceases to be such when it is not applied to practice. An integral part of revolutionary theory is its advocacy, its call to action. The “arrow” of Marxism-Leninism is liquidated if it is not being shot at the target, revolution.
Without work, without struggle, a routine knowledge of Communism obtained from Communist pamphlets and books would be worthless, for it would continue the old divorcement of theory from practice that old separation which constituted the most disgusting feature of the old bourgeois society. (Lenin, “The Tasks of the Youth Leagues,” The Young Generation, p. 29)
Communists must try to master the science of MLMTT by enriching it with the actual practice of the proletariat in their own countries. Thus, MLMTT theory is only grasped if it is creatively applied. This is the dialectical unity between theory and practice.
If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. . . If you want to know the theories and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. (Mao, “On Practice,” Selected Readings, p. 71.)
Opportunism is usually understood as a violation of certain Marxist-Leninist concepts. But
Opportunism is sometimes expressed in the attempt to cling to certain of the propositions of Marxism that have already become antiquated and to convert them into a dogma, so as to retard the further development of Marxism, and, consequently, to retard the development of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. (History of the CPSU, p. 333.)
Likewise, the question of study is also an active process. Study is not the acquiring of academic knowledge and is more than reading books. Marxist-Leninist study, “seeking truth from facts,” can only take place with participation in the class struggle. Studying the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought means struggling to integrate it in the revolutionary movement. To see study as merely book learning is to divorce theory from practice and to negate both theory and practice. Our task is to develop revolutionary theory for the actual revolutionary struggle of the U.S. This must be done by analyzing history, the conditions of the masses and classes and class struggle in this and other societies. The working class and oppressed nationalities have a tremendously rich history in this country, but our movement’s work to raise this practice to a theoretical level does not satisfy the needs of the revolution.
Regarding the relationship between theory and practice, practice is the primary aspect, as matter is primary over ideas, and theory is actually practice summed up to a universal level. Practice is also generally principal in the relationship between theory and practice, as theory is developed initially from practice and must return to practice to be verified and further developed.
But practice is not always the principal aspect in the contradiction between theory and practice. Just as ideas can become a powerful material force when grasped by the masses, and become principal and decisive in the class struggle, so can the creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory become principal and decisive in the relationship between theory and practice.
The creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory plays the principal and decisive role in those times of which Lenin said, “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” When a task, no matter which, has to be performed, but there is as yet no guiding line, method, plan or policy, the principal and decisive thing is to decide on a guiding line, method, plan or policy. (Mao, “On Contradiction,” Selected Readings, p. 116.)
We should note that Mao speaks of the creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory, not “theory.” This brings out the fact that revolutionary theory is a living thing, which must be created and developed through practice.
To say that the creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory is principal and decisive in times when there is no revolutionary theory is to mean having revolutionary theory or not is the cutting edge to whether or not the revolutionary struggle will advance. It is decisive for what the future practice of revolutionaries will be and where it will go; it determines the kind of practice engaged in and what perspective is taken on practice. When the line is to be developed practice must be more concentrated and focused towards the development of that line than when revolutionary theory has already been established. When our theory has been established revolutionaries will be able to take up wider political tasks and practice will further test and verify theory. The principal and decisive thing then may be to broadly expand and develop the revolutionary movement as the necessary task for moving the revolutionary struggle forward.
So, when the creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory is principal and decisive, practice is not negated, nor is theory “more important” than practice. The dialectical unity between theory and practice must always be upheld. The absolutizing of one means the destruction of the other. Revolutionary theory must always be based on practice and be developed for the purpose of furthering revolutionary practice.
Just as it is important to remember that theory is not just book learning, it is important to remember that practice is more than engaging in spontaneous struggle. Revolutionary practice unfolds in three spheres, the theoretical struggle, the practical-economic struggle and the political struggle.
These three forms of struggle, taken altogether as a whole, comprise revolutionary practice. Neglect of any one would mean severe shortcomings in the work of the communists and would lead to a whole variety of errors ideologically and politically.
Lenin and Mao also stress the importance of avoiding empiricism, or neglecting the theoretical struggle and looking at only the most narrow immediate events and conditions. Lenin in What Is To Be Done? stressed the importance of the theoretical struggle as an integral part of revolutionary practice. He did so because he recognized that the advanced elements must constantly raise their understanding to higher levels, in order really to be able to lead the revolution. But also the masses of people themselves must be armed with revolutionary theory if they are to be able to play their historical role in history. Only revolutionary theory can arm the masses so that they can comprehend the society in which they live and know their tasks. If the theoretical struggle were only to take place among the revolutionary circles, it would become a “dogma of the elite.” The theoretical struggle must be linked to the practical-economic and political struggles.
In the same vein, the practical-economic and the political struggles cannot become revolutionary if the masses are not armed with revolutionary theory and the widest political connections are made between all struggles, on the highest level possible. The practical-economic struggle, the struggle of the working class for better working conditions, over the sale of its labor power, the length of the work day, etc., is not revolutionary of itself. These struggles are important for communists to lead, and they are a starting point in the revolutionizing of the working class in its general fight against capitalism.
The political struggle is the struggle against the monopoly capitalist class, and is composed of such struggles as against national oppression, against women’s oppression, against imperialist wars, etc., as well as for the overthrow of the bourgeois state itself. The political struggle also requires struggle in the theoretical realm in order fully to educate the working class as to the true nature of these political questions and society as a whole.
We also put forward that communists, as the advanced detachment of the working class, must strive to integrate and rely on the masses as part of the struggle to grasp MLMTT and to develop the correct ideological, political and organizational lines for the forming of the party. This is of importance in the matter of party building for this is connected to the questions of where do correct ideas come from and what is the relationship of communists to the masses.
Integration and reliance on the masses is a fundamental task in understanding social reality. All the great revolutionary movements have developed a profound grasp of the actual conditions by being in closest contact with the masses and relying on the masses to solve their own problems. And for us, in this period of struggle for our theory and general line, the task of learning from the masses is vital.
Integration and reliance on the masses is not a passive activity of simply going among the people. Rather it means engaging in the actual struggles of the masses, learning from the masses and struggling to bring advanced ideas to the masses. It means striving to develop communists from the advanced elements of the masses. It is the task of communists to raise these elements to the level of being communists. Integration and reliance on the masses therefore necessitates changing the consciousness and social reality of the masses by developing proletarian thinking and combatting erroneous ideas.
And lastly, we believe that the correct ideological, political and organizational line will emerge only through a concerted struggle against opportunism. Correct ideas emerge only through struggle against incorrect ideas.
Opportunism is the sacrifice of the long range interest of the working class for the immediate interests of a minority of the working class. It is bourgeois thinking developed as a trend in the working class movement. Common forms of opportunism in the working class today include such outlooks as reformism, trade unionism, national chauvinism, narrow nationalism and anarchism.
Opportunism is not a question of an individual’s or group’s characteristics raised above politics. It is not a question of “honesty,” “selflessness,” or “non-sectarianness” abstracted above the struggle over politics. Holding this erroneous view leads one to the petty bourgeois method of basing one’s activities on the personality evaluations of individuals rather than on the proletariat’s approach of placing politics in command and materialist class analysis.
Opportunism is the deviation from a correct revolutionary position, thus damaging the proletariat’s struggle for emancipation. It means the violation of the fundamental interests of the proletariat and in place of these interests substitutes a policy or line that objectively benefits only a minority of the class, such as the labor aristocracy or a certain grouping.
Thus, opportunism is revealed by the way in which the thoughts and activities of a group objectively run against a correct revolutionary line. Opportunism becomes a question of line and in turn opportunism must be countered with a revolutionary line, a line which represents the fundamental and long term interests of the proletariat.
The ideological root of opportunism is bowing in worship of spontaneity. To bow in worship of spontaneity is to oppose giving the spontaneous movement a politically conscious, planned character.
There are two forms of spontaneity–“left” and right.
The “left” form overemphasizes the subjective will and makes incorrect estimations or negates the role objective conditions play. An example is terrorism.
The right form overemphasizes the decisiveness of the objective factor and negates the role of the conscious element. An example is economism, the tailing after the practical-economic struggle and not bringing politics to the working class.
The unity between “left” and right opportunism is that both belittle the subjective factor in its ability to correctly assess the social conditions and in its role of consciously bringing politics to the masses and transforming the spontaneous movement into a class conscious one.
The most dangerous form of opportunism is revisionism–consolidated right opportunism under the guise of Marxism-Leninism; it preaches social reformism and stands for peace with capitalism. Revisionism is bourgeois ideology in the communist movement.
The main danger in the communist movement internationally as well as in the U.S. today is revisionism. While there is some presence of ultra-leftism in the U.S. revolutionary movement today (terrorism, Trostskyism, anarchism), rightism is the greatest threat.
Specifically, the material presence of a bribed labor aristocracy in the working class and the continuing presence of the CPUSA are active forces promoting rightist thinking in the working class. Furthermore, the strength of bourgeois society continually fosters illusions of bourgeois democracy and reliance on the bourgeois state. U.S. capitalist society is also deeply infected with such thinking as racism and national chauvinism, both powerful currents forming a basis for revisionism. And lastly, international revisionism is well organized and continues to promote revisionism in the U.S.
The “new” communist movement, while consciously trying to break with revisionism, is certainly not immune from all the various influences of bourgeois society. In addition, it is subject to and tied into the old revisionist movement in many ways: through personal ties, written political material, direct contact in practical work, etc. Revisionism “spontaneously” develops right within the ”new” communist movement. Thus, one should view the anti-revisionism struggle as protracted and a life and death struggle.
Opportunism and the most dangerous form of opportunism, revisionism, must be combatted theoretically and practically. Combatting opportunism is a necessary aspect of all our work.
Theoretically this means revealing the ideological root of all opportunism, bowing in worship of spontaneity, and indicating all its various political manifestations. The revisionist theories of the CPUSA and the opportunist theories developed right within the anti-revisionist communist movement must be actively fought and shown to be in fundamental violation of the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and in contradiction to the basic interests of the proletariat. Absolutely clear lines of demarcation must be drawn between opportunism and MLMTT.
This theoretical struggle against opportunism takes the form of engaging in polemics with other communist groups as well as engaging in criticism-self-criticism within our own ranks to root out bourgeois thinking, methods of work and past errors.
Combatting opportunism, however, is not restricted only to struggle among the communist groups and individuals, but it must be made into a practical question and a mass question. All the practical implications and manifestations of opportunism must actually be fought as an integral part of defeating opportunism, for opportunism cannot be fought just in the forums and pamphlets but in every sphere it makes its appearance. Furthermore, it is necessary to make the fight against opportunism a mass question; the masses themselves must take up the task of rejecting bourgeois tendencies, and it is up to communists to lead this struggle as well.
Thus the struggle against opportunism is not merely completed by proclaiming a stand or by restating some of the general truths of MLMTT. Rather, combatting opportunism, as a theoretical and practical question, forms an integral part of the fundamental struggle to grasp Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and to make it a living science to guide our revolution.
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In summary, the correct ideological, political and organizational line around which we will be able to unite genuine Marxist-Leninists to form a vanguard communist party will develop only if we place the ideological struggle, the struggle for Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, at the center of our work. Grasping MLMTT in a living way is accomplished by integrating theory with practice, with the creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory being decisive at this time, integrating with the masses and combatting opportunism. Drawing clear and definite lines of demarcation between MLMTT and all opportunism must occur in order for genuine Marxist-Leninists to unite.
 Three great scientific discoveries, the discovery of the transformation of heat, the discovery of the organic cell, and Darwin’s theory of evolution, marked breakthroughs in the understanding of nature and had a profound impact on the philosophical movement. In relation to philosophy, these discoveries helped Marx and Engels develop the outlook of dialectical materialism. In addition, the proletariat’s struggle moved from a primitive level of spontaneous and unconscious struggle (machine smashing and so forth) to a higher level of conscious and planned struggle due to
“its own practice and because of its experience of prolonged struggle, which Marx and Engels scientifically summed up in all its variety to create the theory of Marxism for the education of the proletariat. It was then that the proletariat became a “class-for-itself.”” (Mao, “On Practice,” Selected Readings, p. 72.)