Presented: Main Organizational Report delivered at the Founding Conference of the POC, August 17-18, 1958, by Angel Rene Torres, former Waterfront Section Organizer and Member of the New York State Committee, CPUSA
First Printed: August or September 1958
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
This historic Conference is without precedent in the history of the C.P.U.S.A. This Conference was forced by the wreckers in the leadership of our Party. Being no longer able to rule unchallenged with their pseudo-Marxist line of the 16th Convention, and because of the ideological split in the Party they are forced to move organizationally against us, who represent the contending ideology.
Our demands for a clear cut endorsement of the 12-Party Declaration and our appeal for an Emergency Convention have been answered! They have answered us by expelling some of us and setting up “kangaroo courts” for others. They openly announce their intentions and boast of the efficiency with which the expulsions are being carried out in various districts.
But behind all of this bravado and predictions of our death, there is a very real fear gripping the leadership. They know that any tolerance of our ideology and caucuses under the present sharpening conditions of the class struggle on a world scale, means their inevitable exposure. That is why they move with such indecent haste. They have forced the ideological split in the Party into an organizational split also!
On the eve of his departure, the renegade Gates stated:
“A struggle is now going on In the Party. This struggle is between those who support and those who oppose the new policies adopted by the National Convention.”
One year after the departure of Gates, we see the entire leadership standing by and defending the same phony decisions of the 16th Convention! Ponder that thought – those who supposedly “fought” Gates – are today the champions of his position. Life is indeed bearing out the validity of our position – that among the leadership there have been no fundamental differences. The issues remain the same, only the characters have changed.
Two years of inner-Party struggle since the revisionists launched their assault on Marxism-Leninism have radically transformed the Party. Of 17 or 18 thousand members at the time of the Convention we have been reduced to 3 thousand or so members.
All the glowing reports of the “healthy status” of the Party are so many lies. The Party is prostrate and with the present line and policies being pursued by the Titoite leadership it is no longer a Marxist-Leninist vanguard Party!
Never again will this Party be the same. Not because we say so, but because its political content (the all-conquering science of Marxism-Leninism) has been removed and the possibilities for changing that fact have been exhausted.
In place of Marxism-Leninism there is Titoism, which pretends to speak in the name of Marxism-Leninism but in reality is the Trojan horse of imperialism in the ranks of the working class movement.
Thus we find ourselves (those who have held aloft the real banner of Marxism-Leninism) at another fork of the road.
The dialectics of the inner-Party struggle have in effect produced two irreconcilable ideologies, two irreconcilable organizations.
Our expulsion from the C.P.U.S.A. presents us with an inescapable responsibility. And that is to find the way to chart the course and carry on our fight for a real Marxist-Leninist Party under any and all conditions!
In order that we may chart the course ahead correctly it is necessary that we glance back at the road we have traveled thus far.
Our caucus movement was organized during the Convention period of ’56 and ’57. Our caucuses became a necessity at the Convention because in the ensuing confusion after the first assaults of the organized Right faction against Marxism-Leninism, the totality of the leadership buckled. It was almost inevitable that a rank-and-file movement emerge. Our Party’s history is full of examples of how the leadership, mainly because of its class composition, has time and again sold out to and compromised with revisionism – in essence, has capitulated to American imperialism.
The main characteristic of the period we have been, witnessing is the disorientation and ideological corruption of the WHOLE leadership.
Just recall for an instant the early days of the revisionist assault. When Gates and Company were riding high at the Convention, recall the fear and the timidity of the so-called “left”, Foster, Weinstone, Davis, all running around the Conventions pleading for “no polarization.”
Remember the second day of the National Convention after Foster had presented that damning indictment of the Right, how the Eveys, Cantors, etc., were bemoaning the fact that Foster’s rigid position had spoiled all chances for “unity.” Today we can better appreciate what that game was all about. The real purpose of that speech by Foster was for international consumption. For no sooner had he made that speech than he backwatered. He finished the concluding session of the Convention by declaring:
“I have voted and supported every Resolution end action of this Convention.”
How many times did we take a beach-head or open a breach in the ranks of the Right faction only to have Davis or Cantor or Foster sell it out behind the scenes of that Convention.
These were the first lessons we got about these people. Some of us were naive enough during the Convention to willingly play “clay pigeon” by taking an immovable position on principle and then having Davis or some other conciliator settle for less. This became our role and we trusted the Foster faction and the other conciliators because we considered ourselves all part of the same ideological “trend.” That is, until we began to see the light ourselves, for after a while the concessions became not “tactics” but the beginning and end of the whole struggle.
This prompted us to state at our first meeting after the Convention:
”The basic ideological agreement with the ’right’ by the Foster-Davis group on peaceful-transition, on the main danger, on the Jewish Question, the Negro Question, on the right to ’interpret’ Marxism, on the anti-monopoly coalition and others will continue factionalism, and paralyse the Party.
“our disagreements with the Foster group are not on matters of tactics, but disagreements on fundamental questions.”
And so we were born out of the “love affair” between the “conciliators” and the “Right.”
From the very beginning our caucuses have had to fight every inch of the way to establish an unwavering political line and to weld together a leadership and cadre that would guarantee the continuity of Marxism-Leninism in the United States.
This process has by no means been an easy one. In the course of this fight we have begun to define who is who amongst the “left.” One such experience was our association with the Tubman Section of New Jersey.
These people, incidentally, after the National Convention raised the slogan of “pulling out of the Party” and for declaring ourselves the leadership. We fought this “left opportunist” line because to have abandoned our struggle inside a year and a half ago would have denied us a base. Yet today when that base is a reality and when we are being driven out of the Party, today, these same people have made their peace with the leadership and project a line that says: “All the possibilities have not been exhausted.”
Such are the political gyrations of people whose only platform in the struggle is the theory that “anything goes.”
It is important to note that the present new situation in the Party has produced an opposition to our movement from people who previously were identified with our caucuses.
We now witness the emergence of a new crop of conciliators right out of our ranks. And once again we are “treated” to the favorite slogan of all conciliators – “We agree with you ideologically, our differences are only tactical.”
How many times have we heard this swan song!
Well time is running short for those who don’t really agree with us, but who find it expedient to talk out of the left side of their mouth.
Of course, it is possible that there be some sincere and honestly confused Comrades who now adhere to this slogan. To some extent this is inevitable, but one thing is sure – and that is, that as we crystalize organizationally, as we define our differences with the leadership on matters of organization (which are many and of a fundamental character), than all such chatter will be fully exposed and we shall demand of people – “What side are you on, Comrade?”
By our struggle we have established an organizational base for our movements that accomplishment has been the outstanding contribution we have made!
This accomplishment will bring out for everyone to see that our differences with the Party bureaucracy extends into the realm of organizational questions also.
We envision a Communist Party as THE vanguard of the working class, the Convention line does not!
We call for the Leninist principles of Party organization and above all, democratic centralism, which the Convention abandoned.
We believe in criticism and self-criticism as the only “built-in” guarantees for a real Marxist-Leninist Party. The Party bureaucracy abandoned that principle.
As we proceed organizationally we shall see many more such differences.
Two formidable obstacles had to be overcome by our caucus movement – one was the formalistic interpretation of what constitutes “factionalism” embedded in the mind of the membership. The other was the prevailing illusions in the ranks of the membership, remnants of which can still be found, in the caucus, as to the role of the Foster-Thompson-Davis group.
The first obstacle, the fear of being called “factionalist” was greatly dispelled by the realities of the situation In the Party. All a member had to do was to look around, or at the proceedings of the Convention, to realize that the Party as we understood it before the Convention, was a Party of a completely different type.
The Party leadership adjourned the 16th Convention castrating the Party of the basic principle of democratic centralism. We were transformed, politically and organizationally, into a variant of Social-Democracy, similar to the Yugoslav Party, speaking in the name of Marxism-Leninism, but practising something altogether different.
Under these conditions many members have come into our caucuses, and while the leadership demogogically speaks against “factionalism” and makes that the supposedly single issue against us - that is done cleverly avoid any discussion on the real issues. But they can no more avoid the issues, hence the attempt to pin a label of “anarchism”, “P.O.U.M.ism” on our movement.
The second obstacle has not been overcome as yet, for there is still much illusion in the ranks of the membership, including the caucus, on the role of the Foster-Thompson-Davis group.
These illusions constitute the fountainhead of liberalism in our caucuses. This liberal attitude expresses itself’ in the argument that we are still part of the same ”left” camp. This liberalism stymies our ability to see clearly what our starting point must be. This liberalism opens us up to all sorts of political shysters who want to sue our movement to feather their own nests.
What is the starting point of the inner-Party struggle? We are the only group in the Party that has a clear-cut, unwavering position on all fundamental questions of Marxism-Leninism. Everyone else is in hock up to their ears.
Our answer to those whose main preoccupation is “tactics” (supposedly in the interest of winning people) is: We shall be and have been as flexible as is possible to be without compromising principle. We have attempted to raise the political level of the membership to the level of the caucus, and will not hitch our movement to the prevailing confusion and disorientation – in the ranks of the Communist Party of the U.S.A.
We start with what we have in our movement – that is the starting point. We are going to be subjected, as we already have been, to vicious, slanderous and unprincipled attacks…such as the fingering of our people as was done by the National Executive of the Party in this weekend’s WORKER. And our greatest and most dangerous opponents in the immediate period ahead are going to be the new crop of conciliators that has emerged.
We must struggle against and guard against this liberalism. Our only guarantee against anyone amongst us “selling out” is to depend on the collective…not the individual. Too many people have been waiting and hoping for a Messiah to lead us out of the wilderness. Our experience thus far teaches us that there ain’t no such Messiah in the CPUSA.
We are going to pull this wagon together and the road ahead is going to be rough. To the extent that we stand firm on principle, to the extend that we practice criticism and self-criticism in our work, to the extent that we develop and bring forth a collective leadership...to that extent we will cope with the many problems ahead.
We are the only people in the CPUSA who take seriously the lessons of the 20th Congress in respect to the “cult of individual”. No one, not a single soul among these highly ”principled” bureaucracy has had the political honesty to even broach that subject, much less be self-critical of their revisionism past and present.
This Conference should make it unmistakably clear for all of us to remember, that we are a movement with a principled platform that calls for the re-constitution of a Marxist-Leninist Party in the United States – and we do not intend to be anyone’s political pawn.
Too many, times in the past dissatisfied leaders of our Party would go out and generate some steam among the rank-and-file and after feathering their own nest would simply shut off the radiator. Well there ain’t gonna be no shutting off of this steam! Quite a few people have already found that out!
In brief we can summarize the experience of our caucuses as follows:
This whole struggle against revisionism has pruned the Communist tree in the United States, and only a hard core remains. We are that hard core.
Revisionism has captured the Communist Party, but it has not killed the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. In that respect they have failed miserably.
Those of us in this room today have the task of kindling the flame that refuses to go out into a wild prairie fire that will never be stopped.
It will not be easy – in fact, the road ahead is a thousand times more difficult. But having no choice we must face the responsibility placed on us by the historic events we have lived through.
I therefore submit the following proposals for your adoption.
I. This Conference and the organizations represented here declare ourselves a Provisional Organizing Committee for the re-constitution of a Marxist-Leninist Party.
We will endeavor to maintain the closest possible ties with the rank-and-file membership of the C.P.U.S.A.
We now move to the next stage of the fight: we are no longer a caucus, but a Provisional Organizing Committee.
Within the next few days every effort must be made by all present or represented at this Conference to propagate and disseminate the line and policies adopted here to the membership of the CP.U.S.A. Every effort must be made to use the present disengagement as a means of gathering new adherents to our movement. We cannot separate ourselves from the reality that because of our allegiance to Marxism-Leninism we are being driven out of the Party. We must demand of those who claim agreement with us on ideology and differences on tactics, that they must center their fire where it belongs. That will be our measuring rod.
The bureaucrats have not defeated us...they have only defeated themselves. For we will now proceed to bury the dead body of revisionism. No honor guard of conciliators can stop us.
II. That this Conference elect a 19 member National Steering Committee.
A. Whose duty it shall be to act as a temporary leadership in the struggle for the re-constitution of a Marxist-Leninist Party in the U.S.A., until such time as this Conference reconvenes, in Convention or in another such Conference.
B. This Steering Committee shall constitute the highest authority of our movement, in the determination of policy, and shall report back to the entire membership represented at this Conference.
C. The Steering Committee shall accord representation to new areas, or districts, in which it establishes a local organization.
D. Elections to the Steering Committee in consideration of the problems of geography and composition shall be based on representation.
Nominations for the National Steering Committee shall he made by the respective areas, election shall be by the whole Conference.
The Incoming leadership shall have the responsibility of immediately issuing a set of rules, to guide the organization.
III. Democratic Centralism – This Conference adopts the Leninist principles of organization and our movement shall henceforth function on the basis of democratic centralism.
IV. Membership – Any person who agrees with the political line of the Provisional Organizing Committee, actively participates in one of its organizations, and pays dues shall be eligible for membership.
Rights and duties of members – All members have the right and duty to help in the determination of policy. All members have the right of electing and being elected. All members have the right to appeal to the next highest body. All members have the right to freely criticize any officer or leading member of the Provisional Organizing Committee.
Dues – A minimum of $.50 a month shall be paid by each member.
V. Press – This Conference authorizes the establishment of a monthly publication. Said publication shall constitute the official organ of our movement, and shall publish the views, aims and policies of the movement.
This Conference further authorizes the incoming leadership to elect out of its ranks an Editorial Board which will function under the leadership of the Secretary of Press and Education.
The immediate task following this Conference shall be the publication of the proceedings and deliberations of this Conference.