Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Party split Causes Temporary Setback

First Published: The New Worker, Volume 1, No. 1, June 1969.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Be it so. At all events, a split is better than confusion which impedes the ideological, theoretical and revolutionary growth and maturing of the party and its harmonious, really organized; practical work which actually paves the way for the dictator- ship of the proletariat.[1]

So said Lenin, and so it is today. The split within the Party is a reality that cannot be ignored. A brief history is necessary in order to be able to understand the nature and origin of the split. We must hark back to the beginnings of our Party which was founded in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising of August 1965. Our founding conference in Los Angeles on September 4 and 5 of that year brought together a number of revolutionary elements representing sections of the American working class. The full dedication to the interests of the international proletariat was expressed in the determination of the seven delegates who founded the Communist Party of the United States of America (Marxist-Leninist).

Proletarian Internationalism Upheld

During the first year of its existence, the impact of the Party was felt throughout our country. The Party clearly drew a line of political demarcation and class struggle which separated it from the revisionist Communist Party, and opportunist Progressive Labor Party, and sundry Trotskyite trends in the United States. The basic questions that were projected dealt with internationally, the support of the Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung, and the national colonial question. The Party took a steadfast position in opposition to great nation chauvinism and reactionary nationalism constantly advocating and practicing proletarian internationalism. Efforts were made during this period to unite all Marxist-Leninist trends in the United States with joint meetings and open and frank criticisms.

The Party had established the “People’s Voice” newspaper at its founding conference as its official organ. This continued in publication until December 1967. The Party’s organ set forth during this period a regular interpretation of news of domestic and international importance to the working class. It also outlined the ideological and organizational tasks to our members and sympathizers nationally. During the short existence of the paper it came under many attacks from the ruling class and petty bourgeois revolutionaries.

Party Leads the Struggle

In 1967 the Party was able to open an office in New York City which remained operative for over a year. In less than two years time the Party was functioning with open facilities from coast to coast. Our facilities were bombed and attacked frequently during this period, but this did not deter us. During 1966 and 1967 the Party led the fight against the Black Power hoax, and the reactionary and cultural nationalists, and was the sole voice of proletarian internationalism and proletarian revolution in the United States. We pointed out the reactionary position of Stokley Carmichael who openly does the dirty work of the revisionist Communist Party. Police agents such as Ron Karenga met with our untiring criticism and exposure while the revisionist Communist Party and other class traitors were calling for open collaboration with his organization. The Party clearly led the struggle among the most exploited and oppressed sections of the American proletariat.

On the occasion of the first National Party Congress fraternal greetings were exchanged with the Communist Party of New Zealand under the leadership of V. G. Wilcox. During this period articles were reproduced nationally and internationally concerning our Party. We had drawn the condemnation and exasperation of our class opponents. Attacks were constantly being hurled against the Party, and its leadership. Mayor Yorty in Los Angeles organized the Sons of Watts as a political arm of City Hall, and one of their first actions was the harassment of Party facilities. Police Chief Parker and then Police Chief Reddin under Mayor Yorty attempted to place the blame for the Watts Uprising on the Party and used the existence of the Party as the justification for the passage of repressive legislation concerning the distribution of newspapers and handbills. The Party was in the forefront of those forces attacking and exposing the betrayal of the American working class by the counter-revolutionary Hall-Healey clique.

In November of 1967 fraternal exchanges had been arranged with a number of newly formed Marxist-Leninist organizations and parties in Europe. Comrade M.I. Laski, General Secretary of the Party, met with representatives of Marxist-Leninist Organizations in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, and Sweden. Frank exchanges were had with the leaders of the Committee to Defeat Revisionism and for Communist Unity and the Marxist -Leninist Organization of Britain in London, the Communist Party (M-L) of France in Paris; and members of the Central Committee, the Marxist-Leninist organization of Austria in Vienna. The results of the meetings and exchanges confirmed the correct course that our Party was following.

Party Attacked

At the time of Comrade Laski’s return, the Party had been undergoing severe attacks, especially in Los Angeles, where police had given Ron Karenga and his organization, US, an open hand in an attempt to suppress Party units. Just prior to these events the Party had undergone the disaffection of several elements who felt that the struggle was not proceeding quickly enough nor in the right manner. Those elements refused to adhere to the democratic centralism and discipline of the Party, removing themselves from Party work and were subsequently dropped from the Party. The essence of this dispute was who would hold the baton.

Facilities Attacked

On January 21, 1968, the Party’s main offices, in Los Angeles located in Watts underwent an attack by certain party sections that comprised the Red Guard of the United Front. The attacks rendered the Party facilities inoperative and forced their closing. By February 1968, there no longer existed any public or open Party facilities in the United States. The ’disruption’ in the Los Angeles area was due to the low level of political and ideological understanding. Certain equipment, including the off-set press, was removed from the facilities and stored. Plans were laid by the standing committee, to reopen Party facilities in L.A. during June 1968 and to commence a republication of the “People’s Voice” as of July 1, 1968.

The General Secretary, M.I. Laski, tendered his resignation in May to the standing committee. This was done so that the different positions in the Party could be aired. An interim General Secretary was selected to handle routine Party affairs until the convening of the next Party Congress which was postponed until after the first of 1969. This was agreed to with the provisions that the editor of the “People’s Voice” would be M.I. Laski and the newspaper would be published in. Los Angele while being edited in the midwest. A.M. Hoffman was to manage the newspaper. M.F. Lustig was to be charged with the western region of the Party and E.W. Simmons with the eastern. The mid-western and southern regions were assigned to Laski. A delegation of the Party headed by Comrade Laski met with the delegation of the Progressive Workers Movement of Canada headed by Jack Scott in Vancouver, British Columbia during May 1968. A joint communique is here reprinted on page four. It was signed expressing common agreement on most central questions. In New York City during June 1968 a Party conference was held confirming the organization agreement prepared by the standing committee.

Party Decisions Ignored

On July 1st it became evident that the Lustig-Hoffman group had failed to implement the agreement of the New York conference. No steps had been taken to reopen the Party facility in Los Angeles, and there was a failure of communication with the midwest from where the newspaper was to be edited. Lustig and Hoffman, on their own initiative, failing to carry out the decisions of the Party removed all Party equipment and records at their disposal and published a ’bogus’ issue of the People’s Voice in which the fictitious, expulsion of Laski, based on personal vilification, appeared. The Lustig-Hoffman clique secured the support of M. P. Lamm of San Francisco for the subsequent two issues. Their faction was unable to publish more than three issues and has vanished from the active political arena since November 1968.

M.I. Laski returned to Los Angeles in July and proceeded to reorganize national Party affairs, aligning the Party elements throughout the country who would not abide this evident attempt to liquidate the Party. Temporary offices, were opened during July and August, and limited activity was engaged in with regards to organizing the car wash union. During this period, temporary newspaper column was secured in the “L.A. Herald Dispatch” where the announcement of the suspension of Hoffman and Lustig was made.

The arrangement with the newspaper was terminated in September 1969.

A Party conference of the orthodox groups was held in the midwest during November. A copy of the communique is also republished in this issue. National Party offices in the Watts section were reopened in March 1969 and the resumption of a monthly newspaper is herewith begun.


[1] Lenin, V.I.,“’Left-Wing’ Communism: An Infantile Disorder,” Peking, Foreign Languages Press, 1905, P. 113.