Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

John Ericson and Charles Loren

The Anti-Marxist-Leninist Line of Progressive Labor


What happened to the Progressive Labor Party? We have tried to answer this question both by detailing the change in its position in 1970-71 from a Marxist-Leninist to an extreme leftist line and by analyzing the causes of the change.

The articles collected here were written during the struggle to uphold Marxism-Leninism in Progressive Labor. The topics include:

–“New Democracy”
–the dictatorship of the proletariat
–materialism and idealism in philosophy
–style of work
–recent developments in foreign affairs.

Throughout we contrast the Marxist-Leninist analysis with petty bourgeois ideology. We also expose the CIA and Nazi sources which the petty bourgeois revolutionists relied on without acknowledgment.

But it is not enough to state the essence of the two lines. One must go on to ask why Progressive Labor degenerated. Briefly, our answer is this:

In a capitalist society, the ideas taught are almost totally bourgeois and petty bourgeois. As the society decays and oppression grows, revolutionary persons seeking the way to smash the old system and build a new, socialist society bring their bourgeois outlook into the party. This uneven development between the desire for revolution and one’s world outlook is an especially important matter for new, young parties. A crucial task for the party – the conscious arm of the proletariat – is to develop its members theoretically, to educate them in Marxism-Leninism. Otherwise, the members’ bourgeois outlook will sooner or later overwhelm the party. The leadership of Progressive Labor, like most radicals in U.S. history, had an all-activity and anti-theory orientation. This has been the historic curse of the working class movement in this country. The result was that the members of Progressive Labor did not replace the petty bourgeois outlook they had learned like all of us with a Marxist-Leninist one. Theoretical consolidation of new and old members was never seriously undertaken. Just the opposite, an outright hostility toward serious theoretical work gradually got the upper hand. Since one’s practice flows out of the theory one really holds, the anti-Marxist-Leninist line of Progressive Labor was the inevitable result. We have tried to depict how this happened in each of the areas listed above.

In the 1960’s, efforts began to rebuild the communist party in many countries. Some of these efforts at reconstruction have developed well; others have foundered. As an example of the latter case, the degeneration of Progressive Labor takes on a wider significance. We are confident that the work of building the communist party will be done, sooner or later. These articles are dedicated to accomplishing this task as soon as possible.

The articles are left, with a few stylistic changes, as written in the latter half of 1970 and the first half of 1971.

John Ericson Charles Loren