First Published: People’s Voice, Vol. IV, No. 1, July 1, 1968
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A series of meetings of the Central Committee of the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist) has been held this past Spring, and a number of important decisions have been made. A most important decision, reached on June 22, and one which the Central Committee wishes to give the widest possible public exposure, was the decision to expel M. I. Laski from the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist).
This decision was made for a number of reasons, the main reason being a consistent liberal and subjective approach to the work taken by Mr. Laski, and the resulting drawbacks for the Party.
This liberal and subjective approach, among other things, resulted in the utilization of organization relationships for personal privilege and the perversion of political relationships for personal gratification; in an opportunist approach to the matter of recruitment, placement, and advancement in the Party; in an incorrect application of the principle of democratic centralism and the principle of quality vs. quantity in building the Party; in the severe demoralization and debilitation of numerous good comrades in the Party work; in the paralysis of Party work while Mr. Laski pursued essentially personal desires, while presenting those desires as being political policy of the Party; in compromising the security of the Party in a traitorous manner to eventual great harm to the Party; in refusing to follow plans discussed and detailed by the Central Committee in building the Party; in refusal to engage in any systematic and consistent work either on a local, regional, or national level; in allowing the Party’s organs, the PEOPLE’S VOICE and the RED FLAG to be published haphazardly or not at all; in demoralizing and insulting loyal friends of the Party by exhausting all their resources initially and making no consistent or planned effort over time to utilize those friends; in indebting the Party monetarily to various friends knowing the Party could not make repayment within the agreed upon time, hence seriously obligating the Party and presenting to the friends a very bad view of the Party.
These and other manifestations of Mr. Laski’s approach to the work were raised time and again over the past year and one-half, and for the past year Mr. Laski has been aware of his errors and he has been given numerous opportunities to correct those errors (See PEOPLE’S VOICE, Vol. III, Nos. 25-26-27, Nov. 27-Dec. 25, 1967, p. 4, “C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.) Central Committee Meets in Plenary Session.”). Yet, except for superficial self-criticism which Mr. Laski would make at Central Committee meetings, no significant change was ever manifest in either his attitude or his actions.
The actions of Mr. Laski over the past two years must be viewed objectively in terms both of what those actions were intended to achieve and, most important, in terms of what those actions actually did achieve. Viewing the actions of Mr. Laski in that light, the Central Committee has determined that, in effect, Mr. Laski was doing the work of the bourgeoisie within the Party, both ideologically and organizationally.
The Party has been attracting to it some of the most capable, militant, revolutionary elements in the United States today, and because of the approach of Mr. Laski to organizational questions and because of his dominating role within the Party, these elements without exception have become demoralized, debilitated, and stifled in their Party work. Some have been strong enough to see the situation through, however others have been lost by the Party for at least the immediate period. Without exception, these elements attribute their demoralized attitude and the present poor state of the Party to the activities and machinations of Mr. Laski. The blunt truth is that persons who have worked politically with Mr. Laski for any consistent length of time cannot take Mr. Laski after a certain point, for he perverts political relationships for personal privilege, operates Party work on the basis of personal whim and, in effect, sabotages whatever positive work any comrade collective of comrades does within the Party.
Chairman Mao, in his essay, “Combat Liberalism,” (SELECTED WORKS OF MAO TSE-TUNG, Vol. II, Peking, Foreign Languages Press, 1965 (pp. 31-33) says, in part,
“liberalism...stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party... Liberalism manifests itself in various ways.
“To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance...a close friend,...an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed...
“Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to oneís own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline...
“To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the cake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly...
“To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along – ’So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell’...
“To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study...
“To be aware of one’s own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself...
“Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.”
These above-listed characteristics of liberalism in Party work apply to Mr. Laski as though Chairman Mao were using the example of Mr. Laski as his model for those sections of the essay.
The specific manifestations of Mr. Laski’s liberal and subjective approach to Party work were delineated by the Central Committee as follows:
This particular error was the most pernicious, most noxious, and most damaging of all the errors Mr. Laski committed.
This error manifested itself at nearly every turn in the Party work in which Mr. Laski was involved, from the littlest matters to the most important. In the day-to-day work, this approach took the form of assigning the menial, “dirty” work which needed to be done to others while reserving for himself only that work which was least difficult and which would bring the most glory and publicity for himself. Over time, this practice resulted in severe demoralization for those comrades in proximity of and under the direction of Mr. Laski.
Yet, this practice of utilizing the position of General Secretary as a justification for shirking the same kind of responsibility assigned to other comrades could have been tolerated if efforts had been made to correct it. It was other manifestations of this practice of utilizing organizational relationships for personal privilege which dealt the Party its heaviest blows, which did more damage internally to the Party than anything the bourgeoisie has throw at the Party from the outside, and which neither the Party nor the class can excuse.
For example, the attempt by Mr. Laski to establish a personal relationship of the most degenerate kind with another leading Party member, a relationship completely contrary to proletarian morality, led to the most severe problems organizationally for the Party. Mr. Laski, in his attempt to establish this degenerate relationship, completely subordinated the interests of the Party and the class to his own personal desires, and established organizational relationships on the basis of what would best serve his personal gratification.
Using his position as General Secretary, Mr. Laski would utilize whatever individual comrade, groups of comrades, or section of the Party he needed in order to advance his personal degenerate desires, camouflaging those desires as political policy of the Party, even going so far as to seeing that comrades were expelled from the Party if they got in the way of those desires. The Central Committee, upon investigation, has learned that this attempt by Mr. Laski to establish a personal degenerate relationship which would supersede and even determine political relationships within the Party was being undertaken by Mr. Laski as early as March, 1966.
The Central Committee has juxtaposed its present knowledge of this degenerate activity by Mr. Laski with a review of the activities and organizational relationships within the Party since March, 1966, and the Central Committee has concluded that Mr. Laski was making political and organizational decisions based on the particular status and nature at any particular time of his personally degenerate desires – decisions such as the establishment of a special “administrative” unit within the Party headed by Mr. Laski to suppress and keep from the Central Committee any information of his rotten activities.
Mr. Laski’s misuse of organizational relationships for personal privilege and gratification was going on for well over a year before the Central Committee had any word of his activities. Mr. Laski never revealed voluntarily to the Central Committee information on his politically and morally depraved activities and his misuse of organizational relationships for personal privilege – as a matter of fact, he tried desperately by a number of clever maneuvers, besides the special “administrative” unit he established, to keep such information away from the Central Committee. He was forced into admitting his activity only after others had fulfilled their Marxist-Leninist obligation and had revealed to the Central Committee their observations of the situation. When faced with the revelations in the Central Committee of his activities, Mr. Laski made only the most superficial criticisms of himself, touching only on the most innocuous points, and either denying, trying to justify, or ignoring those activities of his which had deep negative political ramifications.
The full rotten nature and extent of his misuse of organizational relationships became clear after a Central Committee investigation was completed recently to determine the extent of Mr. Laski’s activities and the effects of his approach to organizational relationships has had on the Party.
In general terms, Mr. Laski would initiate policies based upon whim and then reverse those policies based on a different whim. This was manifest in no consistent policy toward the basic political work of the Party – whether dealing with organizing or funding or in political relations within the Party.
Another manifestation was his opportunist approach toward recruitment – notably of recruiting certain elements who normally would not meet the minimal requirements for Party membership and retaining them as members for a certain period of time, viewing them as interim comrades. And consistent with this approach of a petty-bourgeois manipulator was his game playing approach on organizational assignments and arrangements, and his disregard of the decisions of the leading bodies of the Party when the decisions did not suit his fancy.
The practice of Mr. Laski was to take a direct hand on local questions on matters where the procedure had been set. Thus he would attempt to elevate petty questions to questions of principle – often times stopping all the work in the Party until one comrade on a lower level would agree with him on a certain point. He would take an overbearing approach to petty questions, but he would bypass the major questions. He was hypercritical on local work but lax on his responsibilities as General Secretary; he demonstrated a definite lack of planning as General Secretary, while he was a “mother hen” over the local areas.
On matters of security, he was the least disciplined of all the comrades – revealing information (presumably in order to impress contacts and friends) and allowing various nonparty persons access to areas in Party facilities and to information designated as ”security.” This laxity by Mr. Laski on matters of security came home to roost for the Party in a serious way three times – twice when Party files were stolen (by persons who Mr. Laski thought were friendly to the Party and to whom Mr. Laski showed the layouts of Party facilities designated as “security areas”), and once when the center facility was smashed, equipment stolen, and two comrades pistol-whipped (again, by persons Mr. Laski had thought were friendly to the Party and to whom Mr. Laski had delivered up the information on the facility necessary for the attack).
Mr. Laskiís best positive quality was his enthusiasm, his favorable subjective condition, which would influence other comrades to work hard initially; but conversely, his worst negative quality was his subjective frustration and desperation. It can well be said that he serves as an excellent example of the instability of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia who go from fits of elation to fits of dejection; and consistency was certainly not one of his virtues.
When Mr. Laski did not get his way in political discussions, he did such uncomradely acts as throwing objects at comrades, wrecking pieces of equipment owned by the Party (smashing a typewriter and a telephone, on different occasions, and throwing gasoline on an offset press), threatening a member of the Central Committee with a loaded shotgun on one occasion, and with a loaded pistol on another occasion, firing pistols into the air at Secretariat meetings, and acting on a small scale like a putchist, although, more pathetically, he was like a frustrated child.
A further example of Mr. Laski’s subjectivism was his taking of almost all of the Party’s funds and gambling with them while traveling through Nevada – avowedly for the purpose of raising funds for the Party – losing, every penny in the effort. To compound this crime, he never admitted his actions until a year after the event, and even then he mentioned only one instance of gambling, and the Party had evidence of his gambling in Nevada on at least two other occasions.
Mr. Laski’s treatment of comrades and friends is most comparable to the patriarch of a family carrying on with his children – either heaping undeserved praise upon them or berating them. However, the Party is not a family with a patriarch, and within the Party comradely criticism, both positive and negative, is the appropriate way of developing comrades and friends.
In the day to day work, Mr. Laski equated his whims with the needs of the Party, when in reality he should have subordinated his personal interests to those of the Party and the class.
To recognize one’s own shortcomings and yet make no effort to correct them is not the way for a communist to conduct his work. When such a course is pursued by a leading comrade, it serves to demoralize the comrades and friends of the Party. Mr. Laski serves as an example of hypocrisy – mouthing Marxism-Leninism but practicing liberalism, and applying Marxism-Leninism to others but liberalism to himself.
It is one thing to cleverly turn a phrase and to speak in a revolutionary rhetoric and to verbalize revolutionary theory. It is quite another thing to put that theory into practice and to be able to carry out the organizational steps and responsibilities necessary to build the Party of the proletariat and to make revolution. Because of the organizationally destructive ambitions of Mr. Laski, the theory he mouthed remained mere words and he has, through his actions, proven himself to be a destructive force on the Party and the class.
Credit should be given where credit is due. It is true that Mr. Laski was an extremely important and valuable element at the time of the formation of the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist) in September, 1965. But it is clear now that following the first six months of the Party’s existence, Mr. Laski’s conscious purpose within the Party was not to build the Party but rather to utilize the political relationships within the Party for personal privilege and advantage. The effects on the Party of this approach by the person filling the position of General Secretary were corrosive in the extreme.
Just as Georgi Plekhanov was extremely important at the end of the last century in Russia with his Emancipation of Labor group, and important in the formation of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, so too was Mr. Laski important in 1965 in the formation of the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist). But just as Plekhanov stood exposed politically after a period of time, as a rotten opportunist and liberal and as a dead albatross around the neck of the Russian S.D.L.P., so now does Mr. Laski stand exposed politically as a dead albatross around the necks of the Communist Party U.S.A. (Marxist-Leninist) and of the proletariat in the United States. With this act of expulsion the Central Committee gets rid of that dead albatross, gets rid of that corrosive individual with his liberal and subjective approach, places politics in the forefront, and allows for the organizational relationships necessary for building the Party of the proletariat.
Mr. Laski may now demonstrate his regard for the proletariat and its Party and his support for the PEOPLE’S VOICE, outside of the Party. He can then show in the course of his work the sincerity of his intentions.
The Central Committee decision to expel Mr. Laski from the Party will be subject to review by the Second National Party Congress.