Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Black Workers Congress

The Struggle Against Revisionism and Opportunism: Against the Communist League and the Revolutionary Union


The struggle on the ideological front within the communist movement in the US is part of the world-wide and historic battle between materialism and idealism, between revolution and reaction and between revolutionary Marxism and modern revisionism. History and the teachings of the great Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung tell us that as the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie intensifies, as political and economic crises deepen, class struggle on the theoretical and ideological front inevitably sharpens and becomes more intense.

The deepening of the general crisis of capitalism, especially the victories of the working classes of Albania and China in strengthening and consolidating socialism and those of the oppressed peoples and nations of the “Third World” in resisting “superpower” hegemonism, hastens even more the tempo of the rising class struggle of the proletariat in the “advanced” capitalist countries. To the degree that the revolutionary struggle against capitalism and imperialism, develops in each country, the capitalist class and their agents in the workers’ movement, in addition to attempting to defeat it by passing over to fascism (open terroristic dictatorship), also tries to spread confusion of an ideological and political nature within the ranks of the proletariat through their main ideological and political agent – modern revisionism.

Their efforts will prove in vain. The class conscious workers in the US are rapidly learning the lessons of the past twenty years since the betrayal of the CPUSA and are rapidly turning away from the path of revisionism, “left” and Right opportunism, towards the Bolshevik path of revolutionary Marxism and the building of a revolutionary Communist Party of a ’New Type.’ No matter how long it may take, no matter how hard the road to it may be, a revolutionary Party based on Marxism-Leninism will be built and the revolutionary movement of the working class will triumph without a doubt.

In this connection, in the spirit of uncompromising struggle for revolutionary Marxism and the unity of Marxist-Leninists, the BWC wants to begin its criticism of the Communist League’s line with a critique of their recently republished article: “The Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League”, since this article represents the philosophical outlook of the CL and is important to an understanding of the present-day struggle between materialism and idealism, between consistent proletarian ideology and left opportunism (bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology).


In examining the “Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League”, one cannot help but see that their approach to summing up history, even their “own”, is in no way consistent with the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism nor the class interest of the proletariat. At the same time the world outlook of the Communist League cannot be considered as a haphazard system of anti-Marxist views, or some “freak” form of opportunism, but a definite and sophisticated system of views long since associated with a definite form of opportunism within the workers’ movement, fundamentally opposed to Marxism-Leninism but “hidden” under its banner, the better to fight against and revise it and to replace it with a “left” form of petty bourgeois radicalism.

The present-day opportunists within the anti-revisionist Communist movement, e.g., the RU and the CL (and others), both base their views on abstract metaphysics and formal logic, dressed up in the language of “Marxism-Leninism.” Any serious look at the “Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League” (as well as certain articles in “Red Papers 6”) supplies us with undeniable proof of this.

In their “Dialectics”, CL lets the cat out of the bag very early in the game. On the very first page they say:

First of all we are going to have to grasp the essentials of the dialectical method of Marx and Engels (our emphasis-BWC). In his famous statement on dialectics in the “Poverty of Philosophy” Marx wrote: ’Wherein does the movement of pure reason consist? in posing itself, opposing itself, composing itself; in formulating itself as thesis, antithesis, synthesis, or yet again, in affirming itself, negating itself, and negating its negation.’ (“Dialectics...”, p.l)

The CL attributes this passage from the “Poverty of Philosophy” as Marx’s “famous statement on dialectics”. Actually, the passage they quote is a sarcastic comment of Proudhon’s Hegelian method, part of a long chapter entitled: “The Metaphysics of Political Economy” (International Publishers’ edition, pp. 103-175’). In this chapter Marx attacks Proudhon’s methodology which was an attempt to combine the categories of economics with the Hegelian idealist dialectics. The CL pulls the last two sentences, which they quote, out of a paragraph in which Marx is ridiculing the “absolute method” of “pure reason” which Proudhon clumsily applies to political economy. The CL pulls this sentence out of its context and then attributes it as “Marx’s famous statement on dialectics.” For the benefit of those who may not have access to the book, we will quote the entire context which fills pages 106-109. The whole passage reads as follows:

Just as by dint of abstraction we have transformed everything into logical category, so one has only to make an abstraction of every characteristic distinctive of different movements to attain movement in its abstract condition– purely formal movement, the purely logical formula of movement. If one finds in logical categories the substance of all things, one imagines one has found in the logical formula of movement the absolute method, which not only explains all things, but also implies the movement of things.
It is of this absolute method that Hegel speaks in these terms: ’Method is the absolute, unique, supreme infinite force, which no object can resist; it is the tendency of reason to find itself again, to recognize itself in every object.’ (Logic, Vol. III) All things being reduced to a logical category, and every movement, every act of production, to method, it follows naturally that every aggregate of products and production, of objects and of movement, can be reduced to a form of APPLIED METAPHYSICS. What Hegel has done for religion, law, etc., M. Proudhon seeks to do for political economy.
So what is this absolute method? The abstraction of movement. What is the abstraction of movement? Movement in abstract condition. What is movement in abstract condition? THE PURELY LOGICAL FORMULA OF MOVEMENT OR THE MOVEMENT OF PURE REASON. (The CL quote begins only now – BWC)
Wherein does the movement of pure reason consist? In posing itself, composing itself, in formulating itself, as thesis, antithesis, synthesis; or yet again, in affirming itself, negating itself, and negating its negation.

(The CL quote breaks here, but Marx continues:)

How does reason manage to affirm itself, to pose itself in a definite category? That is the business of reason itself and of its apologists.
But once it has managed to pose itself as a thesis, this thesis, this thought, opposed to itself, splits up into two contradictory thoughts–the positive and the negative, the yes and the no. The struggle between these two antagonistic elements comprised in the antithesis constitutes the dialectical movement. The yes becoming no, the no becoming yes, the yes becoming both yes and no, the no becoming both no and yes, the contraries balance, neutralize, paralyze each other. The fusion of these two contradictory thoughts constitutes a new thought, which is the synthesis of them. This thought splits up once again into two contradictory thoughts, which in turn fuse into a new synthesis. Of this travail is born a group of thoughts. This group of thoughts follows the same dialectical movement as the simple category, and has a contradictory group as antithesis. Of these two groups of thoughts is born a new group of thoughts, which is the synthesis of them.
Just as from the dialectic movement of the simple categories is born the group so from the dialectic movement of the groups is born the series, and from the dialectic movement of the series is born the entire system.
Apply this method to the categories of political economy, and you have the logic and metaphysics of political economy, or, in other words, you have the economic categories that everybody knows, translated into a little-known language which makes them look as if they newly blossomed forth in an intellect of pure reason; so much do these categories seem to engender one another, to be linked up and intertwined with one another by the very working of the dialectic movement. The reader must not get alarmed at these metaphysics with all their scaffolding of categories, groups, series, and systems. M. Proudhon, in spite of ail the trouble he has taken to scale the heights of the system of contradictions, has never been able to raise himself above the first two rungs of simple thesis and antithesis; and even these he has mounted only twice, and on one of these two occasions he fell over backwards.
Up to now we nave expounded only the dialectics of Hegel. We shall see later how M. Proudhon has succeeded in reducing it to the meanest proportions. Thus, for Hegel, all that has happened and is still happening is only just what is happening in his own mind. The Poverty of Philosophy International Publishers, pp. 106-109

Apply this method to summing up history and you get the metaphysics of the “Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League” So the CL, while thinking they have been studiously following Marx’s “famous statements,” have instead been “studiously” taking their cue from Hegel – an unpardonable sin for Marxist-Leninists!

Revolutionary dialectics, dialectical materialism, teaches us that in order to understand the real historical process, i.e., the development of human society, we must take all the manifold phenomena of nature, history, and thought in their development as a whole in connection with all the material factors which give rise to them.

The mainspring of this development is the class struggle and the materially productive activity of the masses. Dialectical materialism is the generalization of the scientific method applied to the revolutionary experience of the working class movement of all countries. Of this method Lenin said:

Concrete analysis of concrete conditions. There is no such thing as abstract truth. Truth is always concrete...(Concrete political tasks must be presented in concrete circumstances.

CL uses the idealist Hegelian method to “interpret” the development of the Communist movement. Speaking of a similar tendency which had developed in the German worker’s movement in the l890’s, in a letter to Conrad Schmidt, Engels says:

In general the word materialistic serves many of the younger writers of Germany as a mere phrase with anything and everything is labeled without further study; they stick on this label and then think the question disposed of. BUT OUR CONCEPTION OF HISTORY IS ABOVE ALL A GUIDE TO STUDY, NOT A LEVER FOR CONSTRUCTION AFTER THE MANNER OF THE HEGELIANS... But instead of this only too many of the younger Germans simply make use of the phrase, historical materialism, (and everything can be turned into a phrase), in order to get their own relatively scanty historical knowledge (for economic history is still in its cradle.’) fitted together into a neat system as quickly as possible, and they then think themselves something very tremendous. (p. 473, Selected Correspondence, Int’l Publishers)

Marx continues to ridicule Proudhon (and now CL’s) dialectics of “pure reason” on page 105:

But the moment we cease to pursue the historical movement of production relations, of which the categories are but the theoretical expression, the moment we want to see in these categories no more than ideas, spontaneous thoughts, independent of real relations, v.3 are forced to attribute the origin of these though to the movement OF PURE REASON. How does pure, eternal, impersonal reason give rise to these thoughts? How does it proceed in order to produce them?
If we had M. Proudhon’s intrepidity in the matter of Hegelianism we should say: is it distinguished in itself from itself What does this mean? Impersonal reason, having outside itself neither a base on which it can pose itself, nor an object to which it can oppose itself, nor a subject with which it can compose itself, is forced to turn head over heels, in POSING ITSELF, OPPOSING ITSELF, AND COMPOSING ITSELF – position, opposition, composition. Or, to speak Greek – we have thesis, anti thesis, synthesis. For those who do not know the Hegelian language we shall give the consecrating formula: affirmation, negation, and negation of the negation. That is what language means. It is certainly not Hebrew (with due apologies to M. Proudhon); but it is the language of THIS PURE REASON, separate from the individual. Instead of the ordinary individual with his ordinary manner of speaking and thinking we have nothing but the ordinary manner itself – without the individual....
...Thus, the metaphysicians who, in making these abstraction think they are making analyses (CL), and who, the more they detach themselves from things, imagine themselves to be getting all the nearer to the point of penetrating to their core – these metaphysicians in turn are right in saying that things here below are embroideries of which the logical categories constitute the canvas. (pp. 105-106, Ibid., our emphasis)

Comrades, here we have CL’s outright slander on Marx and Marxism. The opportunist leaders of the RU make the same abstract, Hegelian analysis of things in the manner of Proudhon in their “Red Papers 6” though they “criticize” the CL for the very same error in their July 1974 “Revolution”. On page 38, in the article: “Marxism vs. Bundism” (RP#6) we find classical Hegelianism such as this:

In this analysis of the three periods of the national question* we see not the negation of the national question, but the NEGATION OF THE NEGATION (emphasis original). The first period: an internal state question, but essentially a question of bourgeoisie vs. bourgeoisie. Second period – NOT an internal state question, and not essentially a question of bourgeoisie vs. bourgeoisie – but of the peasant masses against imperialism (as feudalism). The character of the first period is negated in the dialectical sense in the second period – changed in a dialectical way that makes possible a further qualitative change. Third period – once again an internal state question, but under new conditions, of a new type. The negation of the second period is negated in the third period, AND WE HAVE AN INTERNAL STATE QUESTION ONCE AGAIN, NOT IN THE SAME WAY AS IN THE FIRST PERIOD BUT IN A “FAR HIGHER AND MORE DEVELOPED FORM”. (Engels, “Dialectics, Negation of the Negation,” Chapter XIII, ANTI-DUHRING).
Now IN ESSENCE a question of the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie in a direct (single stage) showdown. This is a dialectical analysis of the question and is the exact, opposite of the “two-into-one” approach lumping together the first two periods of the national question.(RP#6, p. 33)

We couldn’t agree with the RU more – theirs is a “dialectical analysis” of the national question, not a Marxist dialectical analysis, but rather a typical Hegelian one: affirmation – “first period”, antithesis – ”second period”, synthesis – “third period, negation of the negation.” THIS IS OUTRIGHT IDEALISM, REVISIONISM, AND HOGWASH!

Not only is the RU’s “analysis” Hegelian, but their “premises” are outright lies. First of all, can there be a “third period” in the national question for the U.S. only? Is the U.S. the only country in the world where this “new third period” operates? When was the second period negated? Can the national Question be purely, IN ESSENCE, A struggle of the “proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie”, as the RU asserts? Didn’t Lenin say that the national question always contains a “democratic aspect” and can never be treated as a “pure proletarian class struggle”? Didn’t Stalin speak of the “third period in the national question” as the period of the rising socialist nations? Where does the RU get this trash from? Prom Hegel and nowhere else!

What is the essence of this Hegelian method which the RU and CL love to embrace?

According to Hegel (and his present-day fellow travelers), the dialectical process can be outlined as follows – “thesis, antithesis, synthesis.” This method is a description of the basic laws of motion in nature, society, and human thought. Any single thing (thesis) contains an opposite (antithesis), and the struggle between the two produces a new thing (synthesis), or the negation of the negation.

Hegel, however, while describing the form that the dialectical process takes, developed his dialectics idealistically, i.e., as the development of the “absolute idea” which culminates in the Hegelian philosophical system. Of this Lenin said:

According to Hegel the evolution of the idea in accordance with triadic law determines the evolution of nature. Collected Works, Vol. 38, Moscow edition

In other words, instead of the logic of dialectics being derived from a scientific reflection of the processes going on in the real material world, Hegel, and his lesser-endowed cohorts, tried to explain every thing in the real world solely by means of “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.” For example, in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin bases his analysis on a tremendous amount of statistical material, which he subjects to rigorous criticism and review. The development of capitalism, from its free enterprise and “progressive” stage to its monopoly and moribund stage, is analyzed through a tremendous amount of concrete data, from which Lenin then deduces that the development of capitalism from its lower to higher stages conforms to the dialectical law of the transformation of quantity into quality (the concentration of production and wealth leads to monopoly). Can you imagine the confusion that would reign in the Communist movement if CL’s “thesis, antithesis, synthesis” analysis of imperialism was the only one available? Can you imagine the political problems and ideological degeneracy that would develop in the Communist movement if the RU’s “third period”, “negation of the negation” analysis of the U.S. national question gained hegemony? Fortunately, there are many real dialectical materialists in this country who cannot be fooled by this Hegelian trickery.

Marx and Engels stood Hegel’s dialectics on its feet. Marx said:

My dialectical method is not only different from the Hegelian, but its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life processes of the human brain, i.e., transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurge of the real world, and the real world is only the external phenomenal form of the ’Idea.’ With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought... (Capital, Vol. I, lnt’l Pub. edition)

Marx and Engels subjected the Hegelian dialectical and philosophical system to merciless criticism. They “cleansed” Hegel’s dialectics of idealism and absorbed its ”rational kernel”. Later, they criticized the inconsistent materialism of Fuerbach and thereby developed dialectical materialism–the world outlook of the proletariat.

Having freed the dialectical method of idealism Marx and Engels did away with the contradiction which had existed between theory and practice – a gap which modern-day idealists like CL and the RU are still unable to bridge – by placing theory and science at the service of the proletarian movement.

Over 100 years ago, the founders of scientific socialism proved that the fundamental cause of the development of society was not the “logical concepts of pure reason” as Hegel (and now the CL) taught, but the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. Summing up the class struggles of their time, the struggle for production and scientific experiment, Marx and Engels elaborated the materialist conception of history, and for the first time developed a strictly scientific and verifiable basis for the study of social phenomena. Of this theory, Marx himself said:

The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. Karl Marx, Selected Works, Vol. 1

Why then does the writer (or writers) from the CL deliberately distort the essence of Marxist-Leninist teachings? Because in reality they are not Marxist-Leninists at all but ”would-be universal reformers”. As Lenin said:

They call themselves Marxists, but their conception of Marxism is impossibly pedantic; they are afraid to deviate from the bourgeoisie, let alone break with it and at the same time they disguise their cowardice with the wildest rhetoric and braggartry. (Collected Works, Vol. 33)

This is even more clearly revealed when we look at how the CL “applies” the “essentials of the dialectical method” to the history of the Communist movement.


The following is quoted from CL’s pamphlet, “The Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League”:

Without getting lost in historical analysis, we can say that Imperialism arose as the negation of its opposite, free enterprise. It arose as the antithesis or the opposition but above all as the negation of the previous economic state of affairs. But imperialism is not simply an economic motion – it is also a social motion; in the process of that motion it is bound to be negated as it negated its negative. (p. 2, our emphasis – BWC)

So on and so forth – for this is only a little taste of the profound analysis that CL has in store for us. First, “free enterprise” posed itself, then imperialism “opposed it,” then imperialism itself will be negated (by what, we ask?) just like it negated its negative. This is a mockery to Marxism-Leninism. “The laws abstracted from the real world become divorced from the real world, and are set over against it as something independent, as laws coming from outside to which the world has to conform.” (Engels, Anti-Duhring) While seeking to avoid “getting lost in historical analysis,” someone in the CL is trying to produce history out of his or her head. They are oversimplifying the development of a very complex process – the development of capitalism from its free enterprise to its monopoly stage.

CL’s twenty-five word-or-less description of the rise of modern imperialism tells us nothing of how imperialism really developed and is a mockery of dialectical materialism.

Revolutionary dialectics demands taking the subject at hand and viewing it in terms of its real–not simply “logical”–stages of development, and, from the point of view of its development, examine what a given thing has become today. (See Lenin’s lecture on “The State”) Further, all social practice connected with the subject matter (the ebb and flow of the class struggle, etc.) must be thoroughly summed up and the sum-up of this revolutionary, again, not simply “logical” experience, must serve as the criterion of truth. For Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung, as well as the many other genuine revolutionary Marxists today, Communist ideology Is no simple doctrine or dogma; it is based on the revolutionary struggle of the masses themselves, for the masses are the real makers of history.

But there’s more to come from CL’s “famous pamphlet”. Continuing on page two, we quote:

Imperialism, before the Bolshevik revolution, was in the process of becoming moribund. Its contradictions were all internal to that system. That is to say, the struggle was within the Imperialist system....

What sort of confusion is this? Was imperialism “becoming moribund before the Bolshevik revolution?” Or is imperialism moribund capitalism in the process of development since the late 19th century?

Further on they continue:

What was historic about the Bolshevik revolution is that it ushered in the general crisis of world capitalism, a crisis from which it cannot recover.

Did the Bolshevik Revolution “usher in the general crisis of capitalism”? Or did the Bolshevik revolution further exacerbate that general crisis which was ushered in long before the October Revolution of 1917? In fact, it was “ushered in” by World War I and had been in development long before that.

Throughout the entire l4 pages of this pamphlet we find this sort of foolishness passing for Marxism-Leninism. Not only is their method Hegelian through-and-through, but tremendous blunders in principle and fact are committed. But we must beg the reader to reserve judgment until he has got to know more of the “essentials of dialectics” at even closer quarters.

In their “explanation” of the precursors of the U.S. communist movement we find such unbelievable statements as this:

So we see that in history, the Communist movement could not and did not arise out of the struggles of the proletariat but rather arose OUT OF THE MORALITY OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES, and their struggle against insatiable monopolies. (p. 2, our emphasis)

Comrades, are we to believe that the Communist movement in the U.S. “arose out of the morality of the middle classes”? What category of fools does the CL think the present Communist movement belongs to?

The Communist movement is socialism combined with the struggle of the proletariat, led by the foremost unit of the working class– the proletarian Party, itself indissolubly connected with the masses of the proletariat and through them the masses of the toiling strata as a whole. The proletariat is the supreme revolutionary force – the class in whose hands the future of all humanity lies.

The assertion that the Communist movement “did not and could not arise out of the struggles of the proletariat, but rather arose out of the morality of the middle classes and their struggle against the insatiable monopolies”, is another one of CL’s distortions of historical and dialectical materialism:
a) The communist movement is different than all others because it is a combination of the advanced theory of Marxism’ with the working class movement – which moves from pure economic demands to political demands in its struggle (objectively) against capital.
b) The struggle and alignment of class forces, the deterioration of capitalism, etc., all occur in the objective sphere and are independent of the regulatory will of the proletariat.
c) In the subjective sphere, the conscious elements armed with the science of Marxism-Leninism, direct, influence, and give guidance to the class struggle of the proletariat, and become its vanguard by bringing the science to the most advanced of this class which leads the entire class to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system of exploitation. MORALITY has not a damn thing to do with the communist movement. CL’s very use of this term is another example of Hegelian idealism.

The CL, by saying that the communist movement arose out of the morality of the middle class, besides distorting the truth is saying that consciousness, spirit, and thinking is primary and determines objective reality, rather than man’s consciousness, thinking, etc., being a reflection of the objective phenomena taking place in the real world.

That is why, as Lenin says, in “Left-Wing Communism”:

...revolutionary theory is not a dogma...it assumes final shape only in close connection with the practical activity of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement...

Throughout the whole of their document CL separates being from consciousness and hence falls into the bourgeois philosophical tendencies of dualism and eclecticism. The Dualist (after the originator of the tendency, Rene Descartes) asserts that the world is composed of two distinct substances – the material and the mental. They say that truth is grasped directly by “pure reason” in which intuition is inherent, and the criterion of truth is not experience or practice but the clearness and distinctness of our “ideas”. In other words, according to Descartes, the CL, Liu Shao Chi, the RU, and others, the criterion of truth is within the mind itself.

Eclecticism is the tendency to pick out, to choose, to combine in mechanical fashion all sorts of “theories” and ideas (the BWC has had a lot of experience dealing with these types, e.g., James Forman). CL does this repeatedly throughout their “Dialectics”. For instance:

The inevitable composition of this position and opposition is a synthesis that is the unity of the theory and practice of the class struggle and the proletarian revolution. THE EMBODIMENT OF THIS SYNTHESIS IS THE MODERN MARXIST-LENINIST COMMUNIST PARTY. (page 3)

If one can make any sense of this at all, at best it is a deliberate effort to confuse issues by indiscriminate borrowing from logic and grafting it on to history – CL style! They are trying to tell us that the Party is the “logical” outgrowth of the theory and practice of the working class movement. All of Lenin’s work and writings on the relationship between the working class movement and its Party, in “What Is To Be Done”, etc., is just thrown out of the window, while CL solves each and every complex problem with a “logical” somersault, and a “synthetically composed” Marxist-Leninist Party. We even wonder if the CL needs real people who live in a real material world at all! CL is guilty of some of the worst sort of sophism – a false playing with words designed to bluff the naive.

According to CL’s absurd method of looking at the world all one would have to do is learn three things – “thesis, antithesis, synthesis” – learn to apply it everywhere on everything, and all the complex problems of the class struggle can be readily solved, because according to this absurd theory, knowledge and consciousness, theory and science, logic and method, are like “rivers without sources, trees without roots, something Innate in the mind or something that drops from the sky. This was Kant’s dualism and Idealist transcendentalism pure and simple.” (“Three Major Struggles on China’s Philosophical Front,” p. 44)

Throughout the rest of the pamphlet, in their “analysis” of the historical development of the Communist movement, the CL speaks of just about every progressive revolutionary formation and individual with the most extreme disdain – there are only a few exceptional cases (admitted by them to be noteworthy) who find mercy from their caustic “criticism”. Engels said of Duhring:

When a man is in possession of the final and ultimate truth and of the only strictly scientific approach, it is only natural that he should have a certain contempt for the rest of erring and unscientific humanity. Anti-Duhring, p. 36

Here are just a few examples of CL's “dialectical analysis” of the Communist movement:

As the socialist movement moved to the right, the IWW split with William Z. Foster forming the Syndicalist League because of his recently discovered opposition to Dual Unionism. The Syndicalist League did not last through 1914, but William Z. Foster was now established as a leader of the Anarcho-Syndicalists. A position he held, even to his death.

Further down on page 5:

It is obvious that there was a growing coalesence of the forces of syndicalism along with some primitive Marxism, that was bound to be part of a qualitative leap in the USNA revolution. These forces, as we have seen, principally the left-wing of the Socialist Party led by Ruthenberg, were a cabal of intellectuals and petty professionals, coupled with flamboyant, colorful syndicalists such as Big Bill Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners.

On page 7 we find such gibberish as:

In the summer of 1921, Foster and the Trade Union Educational League joined the CP. The cabal was complete. Syndicalism without dual unionism, opportunism under the Marxist slogans, sectarianism under the banner of revolution, Federation under the slogan of unity. Such was the Communist Party of the recession of 1921.

In discussing the development of the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC) we are bemused by the following:

This basically anti-Leninist position on the Negro Question along with a distortion of the policy of disengagement forced the POC into deeper sectarianism and ultra-leftishness. For example, THE WELL KNOWN LENINIST THESIS ON THE BRIBERY OF THE WORKING CLASS WAS TRANSLATED TO MEAN THAT THE WORKING CLASS IS THE MAIN PILLAR OF FASCISM AND IMPERIALISM, and that only the oppressed peoples are proletarians. (p. 7)

And in discussing the emergence of the CL from a “small collective” in Los Angeles:

The small collective in Los Angeles struggled hard to hold itself together and to strike out on its own, dumping the Trotskyite and petit bourgeois nationalist orientation that had been imposed on it.
The CCL (California Communist League) was thrown into immediate conflict with certain groups, especially the Bay Area Revolutionary Union. Out of these beginning struggles the line began to emerge. The basic question of building the mass movement or building a core of communist cadre was settled; the line on the Negro and National Question emerged with some difficult struggle within and around the organization. (p. 13)

And finally:

Thus we see that the formation of the California Communist League is part of the inevitable growth of the revolution in the USNA. THE CL HAS THE ADVANTAGE OF INHERITING ALL THAT IS POSITIVE IN THE HISTORY OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT. (p. 14)

Fortunately, only the CL believes this.

The bourgeoisie itself could do no better than CL in discrediting the entire history of the Communist movement!

CL exaggerates the non-essential and secondary aspects of the previous Communist movements – placing emphasis on ALL THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS – to the point of absurdity. Their attack is total – concentrating on the negatives to the complete disregard of anything positive in the entire history of the movement. And then they conclude with an unbelievable fallacy that even Hegel wouldn’t commit!


Now this is even going beyond the realms of Hegelianism: for how, to use CL’s own words, can it be possible – “for anything to develop without bringing with it the legacy of its birth.” (“Dialectics....” p. 12) If the Communist movement is all bad, according to CL’s own analysis of it, how can the CL “have the advantage of inheriting all that is positive in it”? The CL obviously has no scruples whatsoever in trying to palm off their counter-revolutionary, subjective perceptions as objective reality. Let us take just one more example before concluding.

In their entirely negative account of the early Populist movement, CL makes no mention of the actual class struggle of the period: of the fact that the Bourbon politicians (who were given a tremendous political and economic advantage over the masses by the big northern bourgeoisie in the retention of the plantation system) were able to capture the leadership of that movement after a bitter struggle and prevented the growing solidarity of Blacks and poor white farmers, betrayed it, and finally directed it toward merger with the monopoly capitalist Democratic Party. To listen to CL one would think that it was only a case of the “MORALITY OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES” which caused the downfall of this movement!

Again, the CL attack on the CPUSA (which everyone knows failed to become a genuinely Bolshevized Party), is actually a cover for an attack on the line of the Comintern and the international Communist movement of that time. For example, the Comintern was mainly responsible for the development of the first Communist Party, the Workers’ Party, in 1921. The Comintern insisted that the two groups who came to make it up – the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party – merge, in spite of all the weaknesses in both. Listen to CL’s description of that process and that Party:

In the summer of 1921, Foster and the Trade Union Educational League joined the CP. The cabal was complete. Syndicalism without dual unionism, opportunism under Marxist slogans, sectarianism under the banner of revolution. Federationism under the slogan of unity. Such was the Communist Party of the recession of 1921.

Though clearly sectarianism, federalism, and syndicalism were tendencies present in the early CPUSA, there was also a struggle against these tendencies which culminated in the expulsion of the Lovestone-Pepper-Cannon group of Trotskyites In 1929, and allowed the Party to play a leading role in the mass upsurges of the 1930’s. CL speaks as though the Party was doomed from the start just because these tendencies existed. The Communist Party of China, the CP of Albania, not to speak of the Bolshevik Party itself, were at one time or another afflicted with the very same tendencies themselves. The Albanians speak of this concretely:

The Central Committee emphasized that the Party activity was hampered not only by the spirit of groupism which still accentuated as well as by factional anti-Party activities of the Trotskyites... (History of the Party of Labor of Albania, p. 109)

CL, after all, is the only “positively pure” Communist group in the entire history of-the Communist movement. Other more fallible groups like the Bolsheviks and Chinese who made mistakes, will have to be reevaluated in light of the CL model!

We would like to continue, for we have only scratched the surface of CL’s profound “Dialectics”, but we have a responsibility to the revolutionary proletariat to sum this garbage up and move on.


The “Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League” is OUT-AND-OUT BOURGEOIS IDEALISM AND METAPHYSICS! For revolutionary, materialist dialectics, they substitute vulgar metaphysics and subjective idealism. For the dialectical materialist method of analysis they substitute Hegelian trickery and sophistry. For the actual class struggle of the proletariat they substitute verbal mumble-jumble and intellectual gymnastics. For an actual sum-up of the two-line struggle in the Communist movement they substitute petty bourgeois phrasemongering and one-sided elitism. Instead of using the dialectical method to explain what is actually taking place in the real world, they substitute a-priorism, and “pure reason”; thinking that one can find the truth solely through the use of logical concepts and mental deduction. According to the CL the Communist movement and Marxism-Leninism are neither a reflection of the objective laws of social development nor a reflection of the class interest of the proletariat, but rather the product or some “HIGHLY THEORETICAL INTELLECTUALS”.

CL, like Herr Duhring, Plekhanov, Wang Ming, Lin Piao, and Liu Shao Chi, denies the role of revolutionary practice, neglects real investigation and study and advocates “self-cultivation.” Like their precursors, the CL regards truth as “pure abstract formula.”

But all philosophy, in the final analysis, serves politics, serves a definite political line. One’s world outlook, or philosophy, decides which political line one defends. That is why we must not take the ideological struggle to be merely “academic” or “abstract” or “irrelevant”. Philosophy and ideology provide the theoretical basis for political line. So to understand even more deeply the reactionary nature of CL’s world outlook, we should proceed to examine this outlook as it is applied to their “political line.”

Let us first look at CL’s position on the international situation.