Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

P.L.P. Third Convention

From the Third convention of the PLP held July 13-15 [1973] in N.Y.C.

Report and Proposals from Challenge-Desafio Workshop

The Challenge-Desafio workshop overwhelmingly supports the current direction of Challenge while viewing the paper as the most left element of the party during the right-wing drift. Two main positions were synthesized from the pre-convention bulletins and workshop discussion with one being rejected as right-wing and the other adopted as the correct line.

In essence, the right-wing position, which encompassed a variety of different views, called for de-emphasizing or eliminating articles about shop struggles–in other words, abandoning the line of the party about trade union work being primary as the source and embodiment of class struggle. Substitutions proposed for the trade union emphasis were:

1. More emphasis on other aspects of the paper “which would get the politics of the party across better than shop articles,”

2. Articles attacking other left groups.

The basis for the right-wing proposals for “making the paper more palatable to the masses who aren’t interested in shop struggles,” is a disagreement with PL’s line on fighting racism, for 30-40, and building WAM. The right wing attack on the sharpness of the form of the paper boiled down to disagreement with the party’s line about the liberals and fascists being attacked. The reason for this being the membership’s unwillingness to fight for the party’s line in Challenge and to struggle with people over communist ideas.

The workshop concluded that the majority of the party’s membership displayed through their actions, even though they did not vocalize it, that they held this right-wing view. In general, in the party, there’s been a lack of fighting for the ideas in Challenge. The main aspect of the right-wing trend has been right-wing leadership at all levels that doesn’t guarantee struggle over the line in writing of articles and sales.

Another aspect of the right-wing position called for emphasis on just the organizational aspect of involving people with writing articles and sales. Although it was determined that this was important, it was decided that to emphasize this over political struggle over the line of the party would be a right error.

The left position, which was adopted by the workshop and is being proposed to the convention for ratification, calls for improvement of Challenge by sharpening it as a tool of the party. Sharpening Challenge was not viewed as just calling more people fascists and Nazis, although it is necessary to expose these creeps, but mainly by sharpening the class struggle by integrating the party into the struggle through the use of Challenge. PL’s ability to lead the class struggle will improve if we do this, and Challenge will improve because it will reflect our role in the struggle. Real improvement will occur only when the membership uses Challenge more and more as an organizing tool for leading the class struggle with communist ideas–and the leadership guaranteeing this happens.

The C/D workshop tried to develop a plan that would make Challenge indispensable to the working class and result in the paper being published weekly next summer. To do this, we must get the paper to militant rank and file leaders and get them to help produce and distribute Challenge. To accomplish this aim a number of proposals were developed in the workshop:

1. Leadership should take responsibility for waging struggle with membership to fight for the party’s line.

2. Increase the struggle with friends of the party, present and future, particularly those in study groups, to sell Challenge and/or to increase their sales along with party members.

3. Leadership should guarantee an internal organizational apparatus to accomplish regular mass sales at plant gates, other work places, and on campuses, particularly where party members and/or friends work or study.

4. Party members should win friends to become part of a network of regular sellers on the job or in school. This would not only build the distribution apparatus but would be a party force for leading struggles. This could best be accomplished with the aid of outside mass sales to make communist ideas a public issue.

5. Report on struggles that substantiate PL’s line, such as anti-racist Antioch strike, or reflect the class struggle, and use Challenge to involve the Party in these struggles.

6. Involve our base in writing articles as well as selling the paper.

7. Improve articles in 6 ways:
a) expose racism that is inherent in situations, particularly in trade union struggles reported and build hatred for that racism.
b) emphasize the party’s line on 30-40 as it applies to the struggle,
c) demonstrate the need for the party in concrete circumstances arising out of the struggles.
d) guarantee that PL’s line on what needs to be done (mass line, vanguard line, and the fight for socialism) is included and that the article doesn’t turn into a report.
e) draw out international implications of the particular struggle.
f) )apply our general political analysis of national and international events towards specific struggles, i.e., our Watergate analysis towards divisions among trade union sellouts.

8. Publication of an ongoing internal bulletin to exchange means and methods of using Challenge as an organizing tool. Reports from the various areas should be brief and reflect how a struggle around the line of the party developed the presence of the paper and be self-critical – i.e. what more could have been done.

Self-criticism of the workshop: One weakness of the C_D workshop was in not discussing how to use the paper to build WAM, SDS, and other united front organizations. Another weakness which reflected racism within the workshop, was the failure to discuss Desafio in depth.